All posts by David Hunter

Report from Sunday 23rd May Race Meeting


Veteran Thomas Todd confirmed his love for Fakenham Racecourse when taking the £16,000 Jarrold Chase on the final day of the track’s 2020/21 season.

The 11-year-old gelding, trained by Laura Morgan, had never finished outside the first three in five runs at the course and under Adam Wedge, the 11/4 chance survived a blunder at the final fence to land the spoils.

“He just loves it here. He seems to be improving with age. I knew we were wrong at the last but he was clever,” said Wedge, whose mount damaged the final obstacle but survived, to hold on from Diligent, by a length.

Nick Schofield gave the Christian Williams trained Joey Steel a fantastic ride to enable the gelding to notch his first victory at the 16th attempt.

Runner-up to stable-mate Barden Bella at the previous Fakenham meeting, Schofield brought the eight-year-old through the field, picking off his nine rivals one-by-one.

He passed leader Etat Major Aulmes after the final fence and drove out the winner to take the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards Chase, at 7/1. The victory was reward for the near six-hour trip from south Wales where Williams trains.

Tommie Beau completed a hat-trick of wins inside a fortnight following successes at Plumpton and Hexham, when landing the opening Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

Micheal <correct> Nolan pushed Tommie Beau ahead before the final bend to win again for trainer Seamus Mullins, the gelding returned the 11/8 favourite.

Simon Prout, owner of the winner, was delighted. “I’ve had horses for 25 years and had never had a National Hunt winner until Tommie Beau started his winning streak a fortnight ago,” he said.

Top Beak, at 4/1, under Bryony Frost for trainer Max Young, followed up his success at the previous Fakenham meeting, by landing the Aylsham Show Handicap Hurdle in style, scoring from well-back Mawlood.

Favourite Storm Rising won the Claiming Hurdle at skinny odds of 1/8 but it was hardly plain sailing for Charlie Hammond on board the Dr Richard Newland trained gelding, who had to work hard before seeing off The Three Wizards by six lengths.

Paddy Brennan won on his only ride of the day, the Fergal O’Brien trained grey, Castel Gandolfo, taking a handicap hurdle at 13/8 before the seasonal finale, another handicap hurdle, went to the Ed Giles trainer Roar, under David Bass, returned at 7/1.

Declared Runners for Sundays Race Meeting


The curtain falls on Fakenham Racecourse’s 2020/21 season with a seven-race card on Sunday featuring the 4.10pm £16,000 Jarrold Chase which has attracted eight runners.

There will be a different feel at the course on Sunday as, following the easing of restrictions earlier this week, some annual members will be present, provided they have pre-registered their intent to attend.

There will also be hospitality diners at the course, dining places already fully booked earlier this week.

All eyes will be on eight-year-old gelding Diligent, favourite for the Jarrold Chase, over two miles and five furlongs. Trainer Nigel Hawke, based at Tiverton in Devon, makes the trek to Norfolk with David Noonan booked to ride a horse that has won at Plumpton twice, Newcastle and Fontwell on his last four appearances.

Main rivals are Monty’s Award and Thomas Todd. Page Fuller rides Monty’s Award, a Market Rasen winner for Andy Irvine while Thomas Todd, an 11-year-old gelding trained by Laura Morgan, won at Perth a month ago and goes under Adam Wedge.

The other chase on the six-race card is the 3.05pm 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (for the Prince of Wales Cup) Handicap Chase.

Christian Williams had Barden Bella win with stable-mate Joey Steel runner-up at the last Fakenham meeting and both are among the 13 runners, the former with Jack Tudor booked to ride and Joey Steel under Nick Schofield.

The Alex Hales trained Jimmi Chew, a Huntingdon winner, and Etat Major Aulmes, a Fontwell runner-up for Oliver Signy, also hold chances.

Hales has Say Nothing in the 1.55pm opening novice hurdle, the horse third at Fakenham’s last meeting although Tommie Beau will be bidding for a hat-trick after scoring at Hexham on Tuesday for trainer Seamus Mullins.

Top Beak, a Fakenham winner last time, trained by Max Young, runs in the 2.30pm Aylsham Show 30 August Hurdle under Bryony Frost with main rival Shortcross Storm.

Five go in the 3.40pm Fakenham Claiming Hurdle in which The Three Wizards, under Fergus Gregory for Jake Thomas Coulson, looks to better his recent Stratford third.

The 4.45pm maiden hurdle sees Neil King’s Dancing Doris, runner-up at the last Fakenham meeting try again although Castel Gandolfo will be favourite under Paddy Brennan.

The 5.20pm finale, sees Caroline Bailey’s Begin The Luck, under Robbie Dunne, go for a hat-trick after wins at Southwell in April and May.

Preview of entries for Sundays 23rd May Race Meeting


It will be slightly different at Fakenham on Sunday when the curtain falls on the 2020/2021 National Hunt season at the Norfolk course.

Following the easing of restrictions earlier this week, Fakenham is having some annual members present, provided they pre-registered their intent to attend the meeting.

There will also be hospitality diners at the course, which is fully booked for dining places.

Highlight of the season’s finale is the £16,000 Jarrold Chase which may feature the Nigel Hawke trained Diligent.

David Noonan is booked to ride the eight-year-old gelding, winner of his last four outings. He won at Plumpton earlier this month when another of the entries for the 3.40pm feature race, Away For Slates, trained by Milton Harris, unseated his rider.

And Diligent also won when another of the race’s entrants, Etat Major Aulmes, trained by Oliver Signy, was placed.

Page Fuller rides Monty’s Award, a Market Rasen winner for trainer Andy Irvine while also entered is the 11-year-old gelding trained by Laura Morgan, Thomas Todd, Adam Wedge booked to ride the Perth winner of a month ago.

The other chase on the six-race card is the 3.05pm 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (for the Prince of Wales Cup) Handicap Chase for which there are 22 entries.

Christian Williams had Barden Bella win with stable-mate Joey Steel runner-up at the last Fakenham meeting and both are again entered, the former with Jack Tudor again booked to ride.

The Alex Hales trained Jimmi Chew, a Huntingdon winner, and Leave My Alone, trained by Caroline Bailey,  a winner at Fakenham in January, are among other entries.

The card starts at 1.55pm with a novice hurdle in which Just Once and Say Nothing are entered. The former was second for trainer Ilka Gansera-Leveque at Southwell while Hales’ Say Nothing was third at Fakenham behind Top Beak.

Top Beak, trained by Max Young, is in the 2.30pm Aylsham Show 30 August Female Jockeys Hurdle. Among rivals could be Shortcross Storm, an Exeter winner for Chris Honour and Ben Case’s Wisecracker, having his sixth Fakenham start and seeking his first success.

Entries for the 4.10pm maiden hurdle include Neil King’s Dancing Doris, runner-up at the previous Fakenham meeting while 12 are entered for the 4.45pm finale, Bailey’s Begin The Luck seeking a hat-trick after winning at Southwell in both April and May.

Racing Report from Tuesday 4th May


Game Line, trained in Wales by Peter Bowen, and ridden by his younger son James, scooped the £21,000 Snellings Norfolk National over more than three-and-a-half miles at a wet, windy and cold Fakenham.

The unseasonal weather couldn’t dampen the Bowens’ delight as their seven-year-old, returned at 4/1, dominated the 13-runner field in one of Fakenham’s most valuable contests of the season.

Always in the leading quartet, Game Line got home by almost eight lengths from Flying Verse and Friends Don’t Ask.

“He’s won very easily. He travelled well and jumped well. I went for home a little early but he is a true stayer and the early pace wasn’t that strong so I wanted to get the others under pressure,” said Bowen.

“I told dad that the tight track at Fakenham might not suit him. He said the prize money suited him … so we had to go for it!” he added.

Since getting the horse from fellow Wales-based trainer Christian Williams, he has not been outside the first three.

Like the Bowens, Christian Williams is a regular Fakenham visitor and he dominated the earlier chase with his two runners taking first and second places.

Barden Bella, a faller at the course in January, won at 5/1, holding off stable-mate Joey Steele by a length.

The successful mare had been runner-up last time at Hereford and she was well ridden by Jack Tudor, winning well despite clouting the first fence on the final circuit.

Trainer Maxwell Young had the third winner of his career when Top Beak took the Snellings Novices’ Handicap Hurdle under seven-pound claimer Jason Dixon.

Dixon ushered the eight-year-old to the front before the last and the 9/2 chance held on from Crem Fresh, who like the winner had travelled well throughout.

Bucko’s Boy, who failed to complete the course in his previous two starts, produced a fluent performance under Page Fuller to land the Snellings Maiden Hurdle for trainer Jamie Snowden.

Bucko’s Boy led from the start and cruised home in style, returned at 11/2.

Favourite Ar Mest scored a facile victory in the opening selling handicap hurdle under Jamie Moore for his trainer father, Gary.

Returned at 11/8, Ar Mest took it up two flights out and scored by 10 lengths and was subsequently sold for £9,800.

The closing Turner Trophy Hunters’ Chase went to Jack Andrews on board 8/11 favourite Tully’s Touch, trained by John Ibbott.

Declared Runners for Tuesdays 4th – May Race Meeting


The winner and runner-up of Fakenham’s Testerton Chase in November renew their rivalry on Tuesday when they compete in the 14-runner £21,400 Snellings Norfolk National over 29 furlongs.

Back in November on soft ground, Friends Don’t Ask, for trainer Martin Smith, won over the same distance, five lengths ahead of Strictlyadancer, trained in Wales by Christian Williams.

Strictlyadancer, under Jack Tudor, is half a stone better off for the ‘National’, at 4.25pm and worth almost £11,000 to the winner, than his chief rival, to be ridden by Nick Schofield.

While that pair have claims, four other last time out winners are also in the line-up. James Bowen rides Game Line, also trained in Wales, by his father, Peter, a recent Newton Abbott scorer, while bottom weight High Counsel goes for Alexander Thorne and trainer Gary Hanmer, after a victory at Warwick.

Robin of Sherwood is another recent Warwick winner and goes under Sean Bowen for David Rees while Magic River, trained by Milton Harris with Mitch Bastyan booked, scored at Wincanton a fortnight ago.

The six-race card sees Norfolk-based Snelllings sponsor two other contents. Eleven are declared for the 3.55pm Snellings Novice Handicap Hurdle in which likely favourite will be Mr Yeats, the recent Taunton third, going for that same Harris and Bastyan combination associated with Magic River.

Top Beak, a Catterick winner in March, from Max Young’s stable, and Say Nothing, not seen since the turn of the year from Alex Hales’ yard, look the dangers.

The 3.20pm Snellings Maiden Hurdle has attracted six with Adam Wedge riding likely market leader, Tossapenny, for Evan Williams, the gelding third at Hereford in February. Main rival could be Neil King’s Dancing Doris under Jack Quinlan, the mare having been a Fakenham runner-up in March.

The card starts at 2.10pm with the four-runner Selling Hurdle which should go to Gary Moore’s Ar Mest, under the trainer’s son Jamie, the gelding a Fontwell second in March.

The following 2.45pm Handicap Chase has a competitive field of 10 featuring Page Fuller on Paul Webber’s Eurkash, Christian Williams’ Barden Bella, a Fakenham faller in January, and Etat Major Aulmes, a recent Fontwell runner-up.

The closing Turner Trophy Hunter Chase should go to recent High Easter point winner Tullys Touch under Jack Andrews, the main rival being Laser Beam, fifth in that race, under Alice Stevens for trainer Ruth Pennock.

Preview of entries for Tuesday 4th May Race Meeting


There are six last time out winners among the 21 entries for the Snellings Norfolk National Chase at Fakenham’s penultimate meeting of the 20/21 season on Tuesday (May 4).

The three mile five furlong marathon is one of the highlights of the year with the contest worth more than £21,000 with almost £11,000 to the winner.

It will be interesting to see how many stand their ground for the race, at 4.25pm on expected good ground.

Among the entries are the Martin Smith trained Friends Don’t Ask. A winner last time at Fontwell, the six-year-old won over course and distance when landing the Testerton Chase in November with Jack Quinlan, who is booked again, in the saddle.

Peter Bowen’s Game Line was a Newton Abbott winner a month ago while High Counsel, a 12-year-old, sees Alexander Thorne booked to ride for trainer Gary Hanmer, the gelding a recent Warwick winner.

Magic River, trained by Milton Harris, won at Wincanton in April while the David Rees trained Robin of Sherwood, another Warwick winner, and Matt Sheppard’s Schnabel, a Fontwell scorer in April, are also entered.

Norfolk-based Snellings are also sponsoring two other contests on the six-race card, the 3.55pm Novice Hurdle and the 3.20pm Maiden Hurdle.

There are 17 maidens entered including Neil King’s six-year-old mare Dancing Doris, runner-up at Fakenham over a shorter trip, in March. Neil Mulholland has Plumpton second No Fixed Charge while Nicky Henderson’s Diva’s Mix is another interesting entry, the mare a recent Market Rasen third.

The novice hurdle has attracted 20 entries including Donald McCain’s Armattieken, a runner-up at Bangor over fences and now reverting to hurdles.

Also entered are the David Rees trained Kiera Royale, third at Stratford and the Max Young trained Top Beak, fourth at Wetherby after a Catterick success.

The opener is the 2.10pm Fakenham Racecourse Caravan Camping Site is Open Selling Hurdle and entries include Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ballyellis, a Fakenham winner in March.

There are 16 entries for the 2.45pm Stay at Fakenham Racecourse Caravan Camping Site Chase including Christian Williams’ Barden Bella, recently a Hereford runner-up and returning to Fakenham where she fell in January, when running well.

The finale is the 4.55pm Turner Trophy Hunter Chase in which Tom Ellis looks set to run General Arrow and Alan Hill has entered Captiva Island, both recent winners.

Racing Report from Tuesday 30th March


Jubilant winning jockey Jack Quinlan praised Fakenham racecourse after landing the feature race on the Lucy Wadham trained Potters Legend.

There were just four runners in the David Keith Memorial Chase worth almost £25,000, won by the 10/11 favourite, who jumped all 18 fences superbly.

“It’s a really good prize. Fakenham does well to put up such good prize money and it’s a shame they are not rewarded with more runners. But I was a beneficiary of that today so I’m not complaining,” said Quinlan.

“It’s great for Mrs May, the owner, because she has missed seeing her horses run. This one is a home-bred so makes the victory even sweeter,” he added.

“Potters Legend deserves this as he has been running long distances on heavy ground all winter,” he added.

Mr Jack returned to Fakenham less than a fortnight after winning at the course, and did it again, beating Voodoo Doll in a tight finish to the Aldiss Furnishing Stores Hurdle.

Trained by Andy Irvine and ridden by Niall Houlihan, the gelding made it four wins from five starts, returned 11/8 favourite.

There was a shock in the Snellings Norfolk National Raceday Conditional Jockeys’ Chase, when 13-year-old outsider, Red Inca, stormed home at 22/1.

Ridden by Fergus Gregory and trained by Alan Phillips, Red Inca had chalked up a first success at Southwell in September, and bounded along on perfect going to score by  two lengths.

Glimpse of Gold proved another tricky winner for punters to find when taking the Cecil and Sheila Buttifant Memorial Hurdle at 18/1.

Sarah Humphrey’s 10-year-old thrives at Fakenham, where he won in October, and Alexander Thorne gave him a positive ride. Favourite Reverend Jacobs was upsides at the last but Thorne urged home the eventually winner.

The opening Bruce Towers and Sons Heating Plumbing Novices Hurdle went to   impressive 8/13 favourite Torn and Frayed. The Hereford winner, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by son Sam, led from the start for a facile success by 20 lengths from Take Your Time, whose jumping was much inferior to the winner’s.

Trainer and rider Dale Peters celebrated landing the Queen’s Cup Hunters’ Chase on 13/8 chance Peacocks Secret before the finale, the Fisher Electrical Contractor Mare’s bumper, went to Derby winning trainer Michael Bell’s debutant, Heartbreaker, ridden by Harry Cobden and returned at 9/4.

Declared Runners for Tuesday 30th March


Beau Bay, winner of the Sefton Chase over Aintree’s Grand National fences in December, tackles the obstacles at Fakenham on Tuesday as he bids to win a second race in the Veterans’ Handicap Chase Series.

Trained by Dr Richard Newland, with Charlie Hammond riding, the 10-year-old scored at Doncaster in leg two of the series. The 4.30pm feature on Tuesday, the David Keith Memorial Chase, is leg six.

Main rivals for the £25,000 contest are the Lucy Wadham trained Potters Legend and Gary Moore’s Antony. The former last won in November at Warwick and then finished sixth in Haydock’s Grand National Trial.

Antony pulled up at Fontwell in December after twice finishing a runner-up, at Warwick and Chepstow.

Biggest field of the day sees eight go in the 4pm Aldiss Furnishing Stories Hurdle in which Mr Jack is the likely favourite.

The Andy Irvine trained nine-year-old has won three of his last four contests, including at Fakenham, at the most recent meeting on March 19.

Another recent winner, at Plumpton a fortnight ago, is Runasimi River and Ben Jones takes the ride on Neil Mulholland’s mare while Sopat, a winner at Fakenham in January, returns to north Norfolk for trainer Phil Middleton and jockey, Kielan Woods.

Sam Twiston-Davies could be the man to follow earlier in the day. He rides Torn and Frayed for his father Nigel in the opening 2.15pm Easter Novices’ Hurdle, the gelding a Kelso runner-up following a Hereford success.

Main rival could be Harry Cobden on Paul Nicholls’ Take Your Time, pulled up in heavy ground last time after finishing third at Wincanton.

Twiston-Davies then partners Irish Odyssey for Mulholland in the 3.25pm Cecil and Sheila Buttifant Memorial Hurdle, the grey gelding runner-up at Sedgefield earlier this month.

Reverend Jacobs, a Wetherby winner last week for Nick Kent, and Good Bye, under Kevin Jones for Milton Harris, look the main rivals.

Court Jurado won at Fakenham at the end of November and returns for the 2.50pm Conditional Jockeys’ Chase having been midfield on his return at Lingfield after a 63-day absence.

Five hunter chasers contest the Queen’s Cup at 5pm with David Maxwell on Monsieur Gibraltar, a point winner in January after victories at Fontwell, Kempton and Southwell.

The finale, the 5.30pm Jarrold Ladies Day May 31 bumper, sees David Bass on Barry Brennan’s Guidedbythescience, third at Hereford in December while two interesting debutants are Michael Bell’s Heartbreaker and Tom George’s Miss Chantelle.

Preview of entries for Tuesday 30th March Race Meeting


Veterans will be the in the spotlight when Fakenham stages a seven-race card on Tuesday (March 30).

The David Keith Memorial Handicap Chase is leg six of the veterans’ handicap chase series and is the feature £25,000 contest of the day, off at 4.30pm.

Eight entries have been received, including the Dr Richard Newland trained Beau Bay, winner of leg two of the series at Doncaster. The 10-year-old then went on to the Cheltenham Festival, being pulled up in the Kim Muir Chase.

Lucy Wadham’s Potters Legend and Philip Hobbs’ Gala Ball are also entered, the 11-year-old’s last victory being at Wincanton more than a year ago.

The Easter Novices’ Hurdle starts proceedings at 2.15pm and has 11 entries including No Fame No Game. The mare was second at Clonmel, in her last run for trainer Gerard Kelleher before switching to Alexandra Dunn’s stable.

Paul Nicholls has entered Skatman, a winner on hurdles debut at Musselburgh, while Uttoxeter winner No Risk Des Flos, a grey gelding, goes for Olly Murphy.

There are eight entries for the 2.50pm Snellings Norfolk National Raceday May 4th Conditional Jockeys’ Chase including Gary Moore’s Episode, the mare a runner-up at Fakenham just before Christmas. Also in the line-up could be John Cornwall’s Torrent Des Mottes, a Huntingdon winner this week.

The two-mile Cecil and Sheila Buttifant Memorial Handicap Hurdle at 3.25pm has attracted 14 entries with David Jeffreys’ Ben Brody, a winner of two of four recent chases, reverting to the smaller obstacles.

Irish Odyssey for Neil Mulholland was a Sedgefield runner-up earlier this month and is entered along with Nick Kent’s Reverend Jacobs, a Wetherby scorer this week, his first success in 10 attempts.

Two who finished first and third in a recent Plumpton contest are entered for the 4pm The Aldiss Furnishing Stores Senior Handicap Hurdle in the shape of Mulholland’s Runasimi River and Gary Moore’s earlier Exeter winner, Ruby Yeats.

Just Cause, winner of four point-to-points, two at Higham and at Ampton and Cottenham, is entered in the Queen’s Cup Open Hunters’ Chase at 5pm along with Trio For Rio, a Ludlow scorer under rules last week.

The 5.30pm finale has 13 entries for the Jarrold Ladies Day Sunday, May 31 Mares’ Maiden National Hunt Flat Race, including debutants Marmalaid, a grey filly trained by Nicky Henderson, and Heartbreaker, trained by Michael Bell.

Racing Report from Friday 19th March


Champion jockey Brian Hughes rode for Peterborough trainer Pam Sly for the first time in his long career and duly landed Fakenham’s Silver Cup.

Hughes, moving nine winners clear at the top of the championship, scored on Sly’s Xcitations and was emotional after the race.

“I want to dedicate that to my wife’s grandad who passed away this morning,” said Hughes, who never had a worry in steering the 10/3 shot home by three lengths.

“He’s a very good horse and is clearly on the way up,” added Hughes, whose mount was returning after a 98-day break.

Hughes was quick to point out that he had won the same Silver Cup race 12 years earlier, on Joe Jo’s Star.

Hughes went on to complete a double when Ennistown took the Robert Hoare Memorial Hunters’ Chase in which only three finished, headed by the 7/4 chance.

Jack Tudor produced a superb ride to take the Prince Carlton Chase on the Christian Williams’ trained Defuture Is Bright.

One More Fleurie, bidding for a hat-trick of victories, looked the winner until he crashed out four fences from the finish.

That left Smuggler’s Blues in front with three to jump. But Tudor never gave up on the Williams’ gelding and Defuture Is Bright pulled way to score at 2/1.

“He handled the tight track well and was tough. The cheekpieces may have sharpened him up a bit but he did it well,” said Tudor, whose mount had previously won at Warwick and been second at Southwell.

The Walter Wales Memorial Hurdle was a further success for the consistent Mr Jack, trained by Andy Irvine and ridden by Niall Houlihan.

Already twice a winner this year, the nine-year-old took it up two out and held off Lostnfound to win by a length, returned 3/1 favourite.

The Shereford Chase was packed with drama. On the first circuit, Zee Man fell and brought down Magic River while Annie Day unseated her rider.

Eventual winner was 9/1 shot Sackett under Max Kendrick for trainer Neil King. The gelding had pulled up in three previous starts but battled on to beat Manofthemoment.

Olympic Conqueror, third in his two previous starts, struck gold for jockey Charlie Hammond and trainer Dr Richard Newland, taking the Robert Case Memorial Maiden Hurdle.

When favourite Touchthesoul faded two flights from home, 100/30 chance Olympic Conqueror pushed on and scored from Yauthym.

Ballyellis overcame a break of more than a year to land the opening Country Food Trust Claiming Hurdle under Jordan Nailor for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Favourite Ferrobin came to grief three flights out before Ballyellis got the better of McGroarty to win at 7/2.