THE return of horse racing from the start of this week (June 1) was good news to everyone who follows the ‘Sport of Kings’, and all of those who live locally and who are involved in any way, writes Richard Walsh.

Last season David Pipe, who trains at Nicholashayne on the Somerset and Devon border, enjoyed a successful time with 64 winners over the jumps and two on the flat.

Like all of those involved in the racing industry, the two-month lockdown made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic has had an effect on his yard.

“Jumps trainers were lucky because we’d all but finished our season by the time that the lockdown came into force, so I don’t think it has affected us as much as the flat trainers who were just going into their full season,” the trainer - who was educated at King’s College in Taunton - explained.

“Our season came to an abrupt end and we had to put the horses out earlier than normal, when it was cold and there wasn’t much grass about, just like now.”

Pipe went on: “Most of the horses are out to grass now and we now have only about 15 horses in at present, which is the smallest amount of horses we have ever had, and obviously a lot of staff have been furloughed.

“We are lucky that we have lots of land around us and we can send the horses out, so we are taking it day by day.”

Looking ahead, Pipe said: “They are talking about jumps racing starting again on July 1, and flat racing starts on Monday [June 1].

“There have been a lot of protocols put in place, so hopefully that will all go well, like we have seen it going well in France and in other countries.

“Hopefully, as long as we don’t get a second spike [in coronavirus cases], I see no reason why jump racing can’t start again on July 1.

“We have got a few dual purpose horses and have got a runner on the flat at Kempton on Tuesday [June 2].”

Pipe’s horse Teaser, ridden by Finley Marsh, placed 11th in the 5.05pm Unibet 3 Uniboosts a Day Handicap at Kempton.

Shaun Keightley’s Secratario, under jockey Josephine Gordon, won the race.

Pipe has further entries on the flat at Haydock today (Sunday) and Lingfield tomorrow (Monday).

He added: “We will start to get a few more horses in from grass this week, we will have a small team for the summer and hope to have some ready to go on July 1.”