Former champion jumps trainer Martin Pipe has moved to play down reports that he has an incurable muscle-wasting illness.

Pipe, 61, retired from training five months ago on the final day of the National Hunt season.

He is working alongside his son David, who has assumed control of the family business at Pond House in Nicholashayne, Devon.

Pipe's former assistant Chester Barnes said: "We would like it to be known that the media reports regarding Mr Pipe's health have been slightly exaggerated.

"Although he is not 100 per cent fit and is on steroids, he was slightly misunderstood and the state of his health is not quite as serious as has been reported.

"Mr Pipe would like to thank all the well-wishers who have sent messages today, but would like to tell everyone not to worry as he will see you all at the races very soon!"

Pipe was quoted as saying: "I have this muscle wastage problem and it's quite disturbing.

"One day, not too long ago, I couldn't walk up the stairs. Even when they got me into bed, I couldn't pull the covers over me.

"I had the same thing about two years ago and we thought that was it then.

"I battled on and, like a lame old horse, the doctors have put me on steroids.

"I say I'm fine, but it's not going to get any better."

Pipe not only dominated jump racing during an illustrious career, he single-handedly revolutionised the sport.

T he most successful trainer in National Hunt history, he broke every record in the book and set a standard his contemporaries found hard to emulate.

He is the only trainer to have saddled more than 200 winners in a season - a feat he achieved six times - and won virtually every big race in the book.

* Tony McCoy yesterday became the first jump jockey to ride 2,500 winners.

The reigning champion jockey won by a distance on Kanpai, the 4-11 favourite, for John O'Shea in the World Bet Exchange Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon.

He made it 2,501 on 1-8 shot Grecian Groom for Jonjo O'Neill in the World Bet Exchange Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race.

McCoy said: "I didn't know for sure until someone told me. It's good to be lucky enough to ride that many winners but I suppose if you're in the position I'm in and get to ride all the horses I do, perhaps I should have ridden a lot more winners.

"It's something I've been lucky to do and would not have done if I hadn't ridden for some very good people.

"I've ridden for Jonjo for a couple of years now and before that Martin (Pipe) and JP (McManus) as well.

"Another 2,500 would be all right if that's possible, but I doubt we'll get that far! Hopefully I'll get a few more, that's the main thing."

McCoy returned to the saddle last week after eight weeks out with a broken wrist. It was O'Shea who provided him with a winner from his first comeback ride on the aptly-named Absolutelythebest at Hereford. McCoy has been champion for the last 11 seasons.