MARTIN PIPE has a big-race double in his sights with It Takes Time (2.35) and Tiutchev (3.15) on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, but stable jockey Tony McCoy may not be able to ride after yesterday aggravating an old injury in successive falls from Le Roi Miguel and Copeland.

Doubtless Pipe's phone will be white-hot with offers from the weighing room to partner the two stars should the reigning champion cry off, but the final decision might well be left to the last minute depending on how McCoy's damaged shoulder responds to overnight treatment.

It Takes Time faces a much smaller field than is usual for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, however it's quality all the way so he'll have to be on top of his game if he is to fend off the certain favourite, Keen Leader, plus seven others in the £140,000 race.

Keen Leader comes with a massive vote of confidence from his trainer Jonjo O'Neill, who rates him "the pick of his Festival runners". Like many from his profession on such occasions, O'Neill has been wrong in the past and despite three impressive wins over fences, it is fact that Keen Leader has twice ignominiously hit the deck at Cheltenham.

On the other hand It Takes Time has not only won at the course, he also ran an absolute blinder at last year's Festival when finishing third in the Stayers Hurdle.

That's rock solid form and he's since made Haydock's fearsome fences look like pony club poles when taking a twelve length victory stroll around one of the most demanding tracks in the country.

Tiutchev's task in the Queen Mother Champion Chase is just as difficult considering the immense strength-in-depth of the two mile contest.

Last year's Arkle hero, Jessica Harrington's Moscow Flyer heads the market, while the defending champion Flagship Uberalles adds more spice to the line-up, together with the Paul Nicholls pair, Cenkos and Kadarann, both of whom have been smashed into by the major-hitters in the early betting exchanges. Why then should Tiutchev come out on top? Well for starters he's another past winner of the "Arkle". That was three years ago when in the care of Nicky Henderson, who was naturally very upset when the horse was removed and switched to Martin Pipe at the end of last season.

Henderson had done little wrong with Tiutchev, who after several bouts of colic is a lucky to be alive, let alone continue to compete at the highest level.

It was one of those life-threatening bouts of colic that interrupted his preparation for the 2002 "Queen Mother" in which he finished a valiant fifth, even though he wasn't 100 per cent fit.

With no such unfortunate pre-race mishap this time round, Tiutchev comes into the £250,000 contest for Pipe on the back of a sparkling success at Ascot in February.

Henderson will have to grin and bear it should Tiutchev prevail, although more happily there could be handsome compensation just around the corner in the shape of Fondmort (5.10).

Fondmort put up a spectacular display to take away the silverware in the Tripleprint Trophy over track and trip in December and has had valid excuses for his two subsequent defeats.

Mick FitzGerald has always rated the ex-French gelding as a future champion and in view of the fact that the Mildmay Of Flete has always been near the top of the agenda as far as his connections are concerned, rest assured Fondmort will enter the fray in peak condition.

Alan Shearer, out-of-luck with Intersky Falcon yesterday, gets another bite of the cherry with another horse he part-owns, the Howard Johnson-trained Covent Garden.

Covent Garden (4.00), who completed a magnificent five-timer at Kelso 11 days ago, is a fast-improving gelding in with a terrific chance in the always competitive Coral Cup.

Leave the nap to Double Honour (2.00) in the opening Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle.

A Group class stayer on the flat, he can be forgiven his latest defeat at Kempton where the ground was too fast and track totally unsuitable.

* Tribal Venture, pinpointed by Janus as a good each-way bet in Monday's Ferdy Murphy feature, finished a creditable 33-1 third at Cheltenham yesterday.

* Dean Corby found himself in hot water with the stewards after the Handicap at Southwell yesterday.

He was aboard runner-up Inver Gold but was found to have interfered with winner Glory Quest, ridden by Lee Enstone, in the final furlong of the mile-and-a-half contest.

As Corby had previously amassed 16 days of suspensions for interference within the last 12 months, the matter was referred to the Jockey Club. Things got worse for the rider when he was also found to have used his whip with excessive frequency, incurring a three-day ban for his efforts (March 20, 21 and 22).

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