FAKENHAM BACK IN ACTION ON FRIDAY … WITH SPECTATORS
National Hunt racing returns to Fakenham on Friday when a large crowd is anticipated for the first meeting of the 2021/22 season.
Last season was completed under strict Covid restrictions, resulting in most meetings being held in the absence of spectators.
But there are no such rules for Friday’s six-race card although Fakenham racecourse Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course David Hunter hopes people will still exercise great care.
“People should remain Covid aware, wear a mask indoors unless eating or drinking, respect space between people and have their own hand sanitizers. I would also recommend booking in advance to get better prices, although cash or card badge sales on the day will be taken,” he said.
Feature race is the 3.58pm Download the ATR App Handicap Chase over three miles, a race worth £15,000.
There are eight entries which include Neil King’s Canyon City and the Olly Murphy trained Eaglehill. The former, has won one of three chases, at Worcester in September and ran in this Fakenham race last season, finishing third behind Wolf of Windlesham.
Eaglehill, a seven-year-old grey gelding owned by J P McManus, was pulled up in his last outing, at Cheltenham in April, after earlier victories at Plumpton and Taunton last March.
The meeting opens with the 1.38pm maiden hurdle for which Murphy has entered both Captain Biggles, second in his last three races, and Italian Spirit, winner of an Ascot bumper a year ago. Trainer Kim Bailey also has a potentially interesting entry in his mare I Spy A Diva, an April bumper winner at Worcester on debut.
There are 13 entries for the 2.13pm novice hurdle including three last time out winners in the shape of Murphy’s Washington, successful at Huntingdon last March, Ben Case’s Cobblers Dream, a Warwick scorer in September, and Evan Williams’ Howdyalikemenow, successful at Stratford a fortnight ago.
The season’s opening chase at 2.48pm sees David Pipe’s Paricolor among the 10 entries. The gelding won over hurdles at Hexham and Wetherby last spring and was a Fakenham winner in November 2019.
Original entries number 16 for the 3.23pm handicap hurdle and include Charlie Longsdon’s Midnight Jewel with Tom Buckley booked to ride. The five-year-old gelding won at Huntingdon a fortnight ago, following up a Fontwell success in September.
The closing handicap hurdle at 4.33pm has 10 entries including Amy Murphy’s Soldier on Parade, a Sedgefield runner-up at the end of last month.