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Standing Ovation tipped for Aintree berth after fourth straight win

David Pipe’s improving chaser Standing Ovation hacked up by five lengths in Wincanton’s Badger Ales Trophy – his fourth win in four outings since the start of October.

The gelding had been put up 26lbs by the handicapper since the first of those wins at Exeter a month ago, but still had far too much in hand and left Alfie Spinner and Caught By Surprise distantly in his wake in second and third.

Although Standing Ovation was 5/2 favourite to win the race under Conor O’Farrell, to do so with such ease while stepping up in class has given both trainer and jockey something to think about with the National Hunt season still at an early stage.

The fact that the horse has triumphed on good, good to firm and now good to soft ground will have pleased connections no end.

Pipe revealed after the race that he came close to getting rid of Standing Ovation at the start of the summer, as the six-year-old was too soft and struggled with the training regime at Pond House.

Now, after the horse’s outstanding recent performances, Pipe is considering running Standing Ovation in an amateur riders’ race at the upcoming Cheltenham Open meeting.

Jockey O’Farrell has even higher hopes for his regular mount and believes Standing Ovation could be a Grand National horse in the making.

It may be a little early in the gelding’s career for a tilt at the world’s greatest steeplechase, but a clear run around Prestbury Park could see him return for the Cheltenham Festival in the spring.

O’Farrell was wearing the colours of the late David Johnson, who died aged 67 during the summer and had previous success in this race with Iris Bleu, Abragante and The Package.