All posts by David Hunter

Preview of entries for Greene King Raceday on 27th October

CHAMPION TRAINER BREWING UP FOR A RAID ON FAKENHAM

Greene King are the major sponsors when Fakenham Racecourse stages its second meeting of the 2021/22 National Hunt racing season on Wednesday (October 27).

The Bury St Edmunds-based brewers are backing the second half of the six-race card, including the feature Greene King IPA Novice Chase at 2.40pm which has attracted eight initial entries.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has entered two for the £17,000 contest over two miles. He has Atholl Street and Brewers Project, the former running in the colours of Grand National winning owner Trevor Hemmings, who sadly died a few weeks ago.

Atholl Street will be making a chasing debut having been runner-up over hurdles twice at Taunton a year ago. Brewers Project will also be making a chasing debut, having won over hurdles at Chepstow in April.

Former champion jockey Brian Hughes, early leader in the jockey title race this season, is booked to ride Donald McCain’s Cenotice, a Perth winner in July, while Jamie Moore rides Sopran Thor, trained by his father Gary and a Warwick hurdle winner in April, who will also be making his chasing debut.

The finale, the 3.50pm Greene King IPA Novice Chase over three miles has attracted 13 entries, three of whom have got the winning habit.

Milton Harris has entered Achy Breaky Heart, a Plumpton and Huntingdon winner earlier this month while Jamie Snowden plans a run for recent Stratford winner Representing Bob.

Seamus Mullins saw his six-year-old geldingTommie Beau win three times in May, at Plumpton, Hexham and Fakenham, and after a lengthy break that gelding is also entered for the contest which brings down the curtain on a six-race card.

The opening 12.55pm maiden hurdle features Minella Plus for the Hughes and McCain combination, the gelding a runner-up at Sedgefield on hurdles debut earlier this month. One rival could be Ted’s Friend under Max Kendrick for trainer Fergal O’Brien. The gelding was second in a Warwick bumper and would be making his hurdling debut.

Makety, from Oliver Sherwood’s stable has been entered for the 1.30pm Mares’ Novice Chase, the seven-year-old having won at Worcester in September while the 2.05pm Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle sees Harris plan to run Aliomaana, a recent Perth winner.

Trainer Stuart Edmunds, who loves sending his horses to Fakenham, has booked Cieran Gethings for the ride in the same race, on Ramure, twice a Sedgefield runner-up in September.

ENDS – 395 words.

Report from Fridays Sky Sports Raceday

BIRTHDAY BOY SAM’S A WINNER AFTER LOOSE HORSE DRAMA

Birthday boy Sam Twiston-Davies celebrated with one of his most dramatic winners when landing the feature at Fakenham’s opening meeting of the 2021/22 season.

Twiston-Davies was on Minella Encore in the three-mile chase. The 7/4 chance jumped the open ditch, two fences from home, alongside rival Larry.

As they rounded the last bend, they were met head-on by Canyon City who had fallen earlier.

The loose horse brought down Larry while Twiston-Davies had to steer around it and straighten up his mount, trained by Dr Richard Newland, to jump the final fence and race home.

“I winged the ditch. I saw the loose horse and had to make a split-second decision about which route to take. Luckily for me it worked out,” said the 29-year-old winning rider.

“I’m pleased the horse won, he’s genuine and incredibly honest,” added Twiston-Davies.

The promise shown by Italian Spirit when he was fourth at Newbury, was realised when the 8/13 favourite romped home in the opening maiden hurdle.

The Olly Murphy trained gelding raced upsides the leaders rounding the final bend before surging clear and stretching out to score by 11 lengths under Aidan Coleman, with Loved Out runner-up.

“He’s a grand horse and hopefully he will keep on progressing,” said Murphy, who has a 22% success rate with his runners at the track.

Murphy almost made it a quick double in the novice hurdle. Jockey Coleman, riding  filly Auditoria, took it up rounding the final bend and went clear of the 2/7 favourite Howdyalikemenow.

But at the last flight, while Auditoria fumbled her way over, a good leap by Howdyalikemenow sealed a narrow success for Adam Wedge and trainer Evan Williams.

However, half an hour later Murphy and Coleman did have their double when Eaglehill, at 7/4, gained from a fall by chasing debutant Go Millie Go at the open ditch, two from the finish. Eaglehill was always in contention in the novice chase and collected with Lord Schnapps second in the three-runner field.

Jamie Moore produced recent Fontwell winner Jumping Cats at the right moment to take the novice hurdle for his father, trainer Gary.

The 7/2 chance kept a close watch on favourite Midnight Jewel, winner of three of his last four races, and pounced to score by almost seven lengths.

The finale, a handicap hurdle went to Daryl Jacob on board the Neil King trained The Knot is Tied, who broke away from his five rivals half a mile out and won easily, at 6/1.

Declared Runners for Fridays Sky Sports Raceday

SPECTATORS AS HAPPY AS RACE FAVOURITE LARRY TO BE BACK AT FAKENHAM

National Hunt racing, and spectators, return to Fakenham this afternoon (Friday, October 15) when the North Norfolk track opens its 2021/22 season with a six-race card.

Small fields are the order of the day but that is unlikely to dampen the enthusiasm of the anticipated large crowd as supporters get their chance to return to live racing for the first time in more than a year.

Throughout last season strict restrictions were in place due to the pandemic and meetings were held behind closed doors with no members of the public present.

Just four have been declared for the 3.58pm feature, the three-mile handicap chase. Larry, under Jamie Moore for his father Gary, is favourite in an open event. Twice a 2018/19 winner, Larry is lightly raced and did well in the bet365 Gold Cup last term and now runs off a four-pound lower mark.

David Bass rides the Kim Bailey trained Rocky’s Treasure, the 10-year-old having had a wind operation and now fitted with cheekpieces and a tongue strap in a bid to eke out improvement. Neil King’s Worcester runner-up of last month Canyon City and Dr Richard Newland’s Minella Encore, complete the line-up.

The opening two contests look like battles between trainers Olly Murphy and Evan Williams. In the 1.38pm maiden hurdle, Murphy has Aidan Coleman on Italian Spirit, the winner of an Ascot bumper, while Williams sees Adam Wedge in the saddle on Loved Out, a Newton Abbott runner-up first time out for Williams after a move from Thomas Mullins yard.

In the following 2.13pm novice hurdle, Murphy runs Auditoria under Coleman, the filly a runner-up at Perth and Hereford while Williams and Wedge go with their recent Stratford winner, Howdyalikemenow.

Murphy has a further chance in the 2.48pm novice chase when Coleman rides Eaglehill. The grey won two chases last March but has been off since April. He has two rivals, Stuart Edmunds’ chasing debutant Go Millie Go, a hurdles winner at Exeter and Stratford, and Lord Schnapps under Sam Twiston-Davies for Newland, the gelding disappointing recently.

A field of six contest the 3.23pm novice hurdle with Charlie Longsdon’s Midnight Jewell, under Tom Buckley, looking to record a fourth win in five starts, his most recent success at Huntingdon 10 days ago.

The 4.33pm finale is another six-runner hurdle with frontrunner Soldier on Parade, under Jack Quinlan for Amy Murphy, looking to go one better than his second spot 17 days ago at Sedgefield.

Preview of entries for Friday 15th October

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.

Local Legends: Fakenham’s Coolest Customer

Local Legends: Fakenham’s Coolest Customer

To celebrate the upcoming National Racehorse Week the RCA has created Local Legends, a series showcasing hero horses from racecourses across Britain. Every so often a horse captures the imagination of racegoers. They’re not always Group or Grade 1 winners, but at their track on their day they truly are Local Legends.

When you think of legendary horses from British racing it’s easy to go straight to the likes of Kauto Star, Frankel and Brigadier Gerard, but at Fakenham Racecourse there’s only one horse that fits the bill – Cool Roxy.

Total Runs  Total Wins  Fakenham Runs  Fakenham Wins  Prize Money
 77 12 26 11 £132,123

At just 15.2 hands high Cool Roxy wasn’t the biggest chaser around, but he quickly built quite the reputation at the Norfolk track. During his ten-year career on the racecourse he ran 25 times at Fakenham, picking up 11 wins and £132,123 in prize money, which still stands as a racecourse record to this day.

Cool Roxy’s 11 wins and £132,123 in prize money is still a Fakenham record!

“He was sent out to buy a fridge by his wife Pat and returned with a foal!”

Cool Roxy was owned and trained by Alan Blackmore who purchased him for just shy of £1,500 in 1997 when he was sent out to buy a fridge by his wife Pat and returned with a foal! He ran 77 times under rules at courses all over England, but Fakenham was his racecourse home. When asked why Fakenham Alan said “I’ve always liked the course, the team there are a lovely bunch. They look after you well and make you feel so welcome. The crowd soon adopted Cool Roxy as one of their own, thousands of people would come through the gates when he was set to run.”

Arguably Alan and Cool Roxy’s greatest day at Fakenham was in October 2008. Alan was keen to give something back to the Norfolk course that had given him so much success so he decided to sponsor a race for his 80th birthday, the Alan Blackmore Birthday Handicap Chase. Cool Roxy was declared to run and had obviously read the script, cruising home to a 24-length victory much to the delight of the packed-out Fakenham crowd. As if that wasn’t enough Alan was then presented with his trophy by HRH The Princess Royal who was attending Fakenham in her capacity as a patron of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Alan Blackmore, owner & trainer of Cool Roxy speaking with HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne in the Fakenham parade ring.

“When he ran at Fakenham the gate would increase – he was so popular. I have never heard such cheers and roars from Fakenham’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd as when Roxy won.”

David Hunter, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at Fakenham Racecourse has fond memories of Cool Roxy and said “Cool Roxy had a huge following at Fakenham. He was the most fantastic horse, a neat and tidy jumper with a heart of a lion.

“When he ran at Fakenham the gate would increase – he was so popular. I have never heard such cheers and roars from Fakenham’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd as when Roxy won. He was a lovely horse with a very kind eye and often won best turned out. It was a real privilege to be clerk during his period of Fakenham dominance. My only regret is that I never sat on him!”

Cool Roxy’s final run at Fakenham was on 22nd May 2011, but his legacy didn’t end there. In 2015 a new Owners & Trainers bar was built at the course and it was named the Cool Roxy Bar in honour of their favourite thoroughbred. The bar was officially opened by Cool Roxy who even headed inside to give it his own seal of approval. Of the day Alan Blackmore said “I was a little nervous when Roxy headed into the brand-new facility, but he was clearly impressed as once he entered he didn’t want to leave! It was a typically thoughtful gesture of the racecourse team to think of me and Roxy with their new facility and it’s wonderful to think that he will be remembered by so many there for years to come.”

Cool Roxy and Emily Crossman at the opening of The Cool Roxy Owners’ & Trainers’ Bar

After his racing career Cool Roxy was taken on by his work rider Emily Crossman who looked after him and competed in multiple Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) competitions with him. In 2017, at the age of 20, Cool Roxy died due to colic, but he will long be remembered as an equine legend by Alan, Emily, the entire team at Fakenham and thousands of racegoers from Norfolk and beyond.

Find out more about National Racehorse Week at nationalracehorseweek.uk

Friday 3rd December Christmas Party Spectacular!

The team at Fakenham Racecourse are very excited and would like to invite you to our Christmas Party Spectacular! Hosted at the Fakenham Racecourse in the Luxurious Prince of Wales stand on Friday 3rd December.

For the price of £45.00 per person there will be a 3 course meal with all the trimmings and musical entertainment. Dress to impress and of course Christmas hats and festive jumpers are all welcome.

Don’t delay book today for family, work or friends for an festive, fun, get together!

To book your place please email trudi@fakenhamracecourse.co.uk  or call Trudi on 01328 862388 ext 3.

Report from Sunday 23rd May Race Meeting

THOMAS SURVIVES LAST FENCE BLUNDER TO CLOSE FAKENHAM’S SEASON IN STYLE

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

DEVON-BASED DILIGENT LOOKS TO CREAM OFF FAKENHAM’S TOP PRIZE AT SEASONAL FINALE

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

DILIGENT HOPING TO KEEP WINNING RUN GOING IN JARROLD CHASE

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

BONANZA TIME FOR THE BOWENS AS GAME LINE LANDS THE NATIONAL

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.