Never in a million years did ROA member Mark Munrowd believe he would have a horse in training with David Pipe and now the owner is ‘living the dream’ following Main Fact’s victory at Catterick on Tuesday that took the horse’s record to seven wins from seven runs.
The achievement is even more remarkable given that five of the wins came between January and March of this year over hurdles before racing was suspended due to the coronavirus.
Making his reappearance at Newbury earlier this month where he was sent off even-favourite, Main Fact duly obliged to win the two-mile handicap by three and a half lengths. Just four days later, he routed the opposition at Catterick to secure his most recent success.
For Munrowd, who owns Main Fact with his sister Samantha, John Owen, Nigel Hooper and Justin Wallage, the story of how Main Fact came to be owned by the group, known as the Munrowd Partnership, begins several years earlier.
“I rode in point-to-points for 20 years, riding in the midlands for ten seasons and then I rode for another ten seasons down in the West Country”, said Munrowd.
“I knew Gerry Supple, who worked for David, through the point-to-points and we’ve been friends ever since. I knew Dave through the point-to-points and just knew him as Dave. I never thought I’d have a horse with him, and didn’t think we’d ever afford one.
“I’m very, very grateful to Dave for giving us a chance in the first place and then giving us the chance to buy him after last season”
“I gave up race riding in 2009 and went into shares with a friend of mine from Worcestershire. Then came the opportunity to join a syndicate with David Pipe with his father-in-law which my sister and I became involved with a couple of horses called Mr Clarkson and Delface.
“One day we were at a race meeting and Dave said, ‘do you want another one?’ and I said yes. He phoned me up about a horse called Timeforben that he used to train and the owners wanted to sell her so we bought her.
“Unfortunately, on her second run at Newton Abbot she broke her hind leg. I’d put a little syndicate together for some boys to have some fun and had let them know the worst-case scenario before we started; never expecting it to happen.”
Having suffered the cruellest of blows so early into forming a syndicate, any owner could have been apprehensive about continuing their involvement in the sport but for Munrowd, Pipe had found another horse who fit the bill to have a bit of fun with and might pick up a few wins.
That horse of course turned out to be none other than Main Fact.
Munrowd added: “David found through the yard that he was available for free lease and we just had to pay the training fees. He’d been off the track for 18 months and he was billed as little fun horse who could pick up one win and here we are today.
Congratulations to @_benacurtis who’s won the @MillbryHill #RideoftheMeeting yesterday for his ride on MAIN FACT in the 2.45pm race! 👏 MAIN FACT battled the elements to come through from behind and take his 7th win on the bounce for @DavidPipeRacing. pic.twitter.com/hBTIf52f9T
— Catterick Racecourse (@CatterickRaces) October 28, 2020
“He hadn’t been on the track for 600 days when he ran at Exeter. Dave gave him the time off as he had a slight injury and they nursed him back to give him the time for it to heal. He’s a very well-bred horse and he comes with a little bit of a quirk as he has his own mind, but he likes the routine down at Pond House.
“This is the reward they’ve got [Main Fact’s wins] for getting him back. For him to keep doing what he’s doing, long may it continue.
“”I’m very, very grateful to Dave for giving us a chance in the first place and then giving us the chance to buy him after last season. Then there’s John Brian, the guy who I breed horses with, and he gave me my first ever ride in a race.
“That’s why I went in with shares in the first place, just to pay a little bit of gratitude back for helping me. I would have never have ever probably got into racing otherwise. I’ve met a lot of people through the sport and it’s marvellous.”
The key to Main Fact, according to Munrowd, is soft or heavy ground and those favoured conditions are clear for all to see with all seven of his wins in 2020 coming either on soft or heavy ground.
He said: “Last season we ran him three times in eight days only purely because one, he loves the soft ground. With winning races so easily, he was able to run in quick succession.
“For him to keep doing what he’s doing, long may it continue”
“Then to come out, especially on the Flat, first time since March, and to go and how he did it on Tuesday was unbelievable – the way he picked them up and turned it into a procession.
“Every time he goes, as long as he comes back in one piece, and the jockey does too, there’s always another day. We’re just grateful that we’re able to own this horse and what he’s done, it’s superb.”
Despite the new protocols in attending race meetings during the coronavirus, Munrowd has made every effort to be there when his superstar runs and has had positive experiences while at Newbury and Catterick.
“You only get one chance with these horses,” he added. “I definitely go every time. The two experiences that I’ve had, I’ve been treated very well. They point you in the right direction and the service is great. My sister and I are members of the ROA so we get sent emails that are easy to follow as well.
“It’s a little bit eerie when you because there’s no crowd but in the current climate you just have to adapt to it. Hopefully we can get crowds back to support the bookmakers and racecourse. There was one bookmaker at Catterick who stood through the rain and it’s a shame as that’s their living.”
Plans now call for Main Fact to target the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham next month with the seven-year-old having risen through the handicap ranks over hurdles and Munrowd is hoping that the winning trend can continue.
Munrowd concluded: “We’re living the dream to be honest. We’re just hoping he can keep going as he keeps surprising us and coming back, making it effortless. We’ve landed on a nice horse and the smile hasn’t wiped off.”