All posts by David Hunter

Declared Runners for the Country Food Trust Race Day – Friday 18th March


Jockey Tom Cannon and trainer Alan King scooped the Arkle Novice Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday on Edwardstone and this afternoon (Friday) switch to Fakenham in a bid to land the £25,000 Country Food Trust Silver Cup.

The 3.45pm feature race has six runners, with Cannon and King represented by Restitution, a gelding out of Frankel. The four-year-old was third of 10 at Kempton just after Christmas and followed that by finishing runner-up at Ascot in January.

Main threats in a race which starts minutes after the end of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, are Olympic Conqueror, Vocal Duke and Glimpse of Gold, all previous Fakenham winners.

Charlie Hammond partners Olympic Conquerer for Dr Richard Newland, the gelding a Fakenham winner last year, while Brendan Powell is on the Toby Lawes trained Vocal Duke and James Best partners Sarah Humphrey’s Glimpse of Gold, a three-time course winner.

There are five in the £20,000 Prince Carlton Chase at 2.25pm, the quintet headed by the David Pipe trained Via Dolorosa under Philip Armson. The gelding carries a seven-pound penalty for victory at Southwell last week.

Bryony Frost partners former course winner Admiral Barratry for trainer Lucy Wadham while Tristan Durrell claims seven pounds off Go Steady for Dan Skelton, the gelding third at Huntingdon earlier this month.

Biggest field sees 10 go in the opening 1.10pm Robert Case Memorial Maiden Hurdle in which Rewired looks favourite under Cilin Leonard for Dr Newland, following his runner-up effort at Doncaster in February.

The 1.45pm Country Food Trust Claiming Hurdle looks ready made for Coole Well under Max Kendrick for trainer Jake Coulson. The gelding returns after a break and a third place finish at Leicester.

Cannon partners Chris Gordon’s Hiway One O Three in the 3.05pm Walter Wales Memorial Hurdle, the gelding having scored at Carlisle eight days ago.

Three rivals are course and distance winners, including Stuart Edmunds’ Here Comes Henry, Jumping Cats for Gary Moore and Thirtyfourstitches for Dr Newland, that gelding having won at Fakenham in January and February.

The 4.25pm Hellesdon Leather and Cloth Furnishing Company Chase is over more than three-and-a-half miles and favourite will be Exod’ela for Jamie Snowden.

The seven-race cards closes with the 5pm Robert Hoare Memorial Open Hunters Chase in which four go, with likely favourite 12-year-old grey mare Activial for trainer Francesca Poste.

Five Day Entries for the Country Food Trust Raceday on Friday 18th March


Fakenham stages its Country Food Trust Raceday of Friday when its own Silver Cup Hurdle contest worth £25,000 is the highlight to rival the famous Gold Cup happening on the same afternoon at the Cheltenham Festival.

While the eyes of the racing world will be on the events in Gloucestershire, Fakenham expects a good crowd for a seven-race card in which the Silver Cup is the highlight at 3.45pm., minutes after the Gold Cup has reached its conclusion.

Dr Richard Newland has tasted success at the north Norfolk venue recently and he has two entries for the Silver Cup in Olympic Conqueror, a course and distance winner at back in March 2021, and Purple King, a Sandown winner just a week ago.

Olly Murphy is another trainer to be reckoned with at Fakenham and he has Dr T J Eckleburg entered, the four-year-old chasing a hat-trick after victories at Taunton and Ludlow.

Among the other 14 entries are two more course and distance winners in Toby Lawes’ Vocal Duke, and Glimpse of Gold, representing trainer Sarah Humphrey.

The Prince Carlton Handicap Chase at 2.25pm is the other highlight on the card with 11 entries for the £20,000 contest headed by Lucy Wadham’s Admiral Barratry, a winner at Fakenham just before Christmas.

Eaglehill, representing Murphy, is another interesting entry, the eight-year-old grey gelding having scored at the course in October.

The 3.05pm Walter Wales Memorial Hurdle sees four horses among the 17 entries who have won over course and distance. The quartet who clearly handle Fakenham well are Ben Case’s Conceroe, a winner in December; Stuart Edmunds’ Here Comes Henry, successful on New Year’s Day; Gary Moore’s Jumping Cats who won in October; and Thirtyfourstitches from Dr Newland’s stable, a dual Fakenham winner, in January and February.

Biggest entry is 18 for the closing 5pm Robert Hoare Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase which includes three in-form horses in the shape of Fifty Shades, Jeremy Central and the Philip Rowley trained Dragon D’estruval.

By contrast just six entries have been made for the 4.25pm Hellesedon Leather and Cloth Furnishing Company Chase.  Ajay’s Ways, for Fergal O’Brien, won at the course in January while Vinnie’s Getaway was runner-up at the track last month.

Nicky Henderson, sure to be at Cheltenham, has entered Rathmacknee in the opening 1.10pm Robert Case Maiden Hurdle while at 1.45pm Coole Well  looks an interesting possible runner in the Country Food Trust Claiming Hurdle.

Friday 18th February Race Meeting Abandoned


The scheduled seven-race meeting at Fakenham for this afternoon (Friday) became racing’s first victim of Storm Eunice when it was called off yesterday (Thursday) lunchtime.

Extremely high winds are expected, in a storm forecasted to be one of the worst for 30 years. Fakenham elected to abandon racing ahead of time.

Chief executive David Hunter said: “We decided to cancel in view of the amber warning that had been put out for Storm Eunice, which is danger to life.

“We have been forecast winds between 70 and 80mph between midday and 3pm on Friday and I think it would be irresponsible of us to consider putting a race meeting on, for travel especially.

“We would have people and horses travelling from all over the country which would be dangerous and even if they get here it would be dangerous with the possibility of flying debris.

“This is unprecedented. In 25 years I’ve never had a meeting that has been affected by such strong winds. This is a serious storm and I think we’ve made the correct decision to call it early so people can plan ahead.

“If someone was injured we would be in a very poor position and people would question why we were putting on a meeting in the middle of a weather bomb,” he added.

The next scheduled meeting at Fakenham is on Friday, March 18, the same day as the National Hunt season’s Blue Riband event, the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

Declared Runners for our Just After Valentines Raceday, Friday 18th February


Horses cheered to victory at recent Fakenham race meetings return on Friday (Feb 18) to try to earn more rich pickings from the course’s seven-race card.

Feature at 3.25pm is the £20,000 Tim Barclay Memorial Handicap Chase and the Lucy Wadham trained Admiral Barratry, with Bryony Frost booked to ride, is among the five runners, the gelding hoping to repeat his pre-Christmas Fakenham success.

He was fifth at Lingfield in January and can expect competition from Early Du Lemo, trying to defy a seven-pound penalty for victory at Plumpton on Monday.

The grey gelding, trained by Gary Moore with son Joshua in the saddle, won a four-runner contest in Sussex and looks for a quick double.

Bryan Carver rides Foxboro for Robert Walford, that gelding runner-up at Fontwell 11 days ago while another grey, Rose Sea Has, under Sam Twiston-Davies for Dr Richard Newland, has been second on recent runs, at Ffos Las and Chepstow.

At the last Fakenham meeting, nine days ago, Rostello scored for Newland and jockey Cillin Leonard and the same team bid for glory in the 2.20pm Sculthorpe Novice Chase.

Six go in the two-miler and main threat to Rostello may come from Tom Gretton’s Passing Secrets. Lee Edwards takes the ride on the gelding three times second recently, including behind Rostello at Huntingdon.

Largest field is for the opening Holt Selling Hurdle at 1.15pm with nine taking their chance, including Olly Murphy’s Hey Bob, the gelding fourth at Plumpton after earlier winning there.

Likely favourite is The Raven’s Return under Kevin Jones for Charlie Pogson, the nine-year-old a recent Market Rasen runner-up.

Four battle it out at 1.50pm in the Helhoughton Handicap Hurdle in which Wadham and Frost team up with Kempton runner-up Dash For Cash. Main rival is the Gillian Boanas trained Flexi Furlough, Tom Midgley riding the mare who scored at Doncaster in January, while Here Comes Henry, a Fakenham winner on New Year’s Day, returns for trainer Stuart Edmunds.

Richard Spencer’s Peejaybee looks the one in the 2.55pm Novice Hurdle, James Bowen on the February Sandown winner.

Five go in the 4pm William Bulwer-Long Memorial Hunter Chase headed by the David Maxwell owned and ridden Shantou Flyer, trained by Paul Nicholls. The 12-year-old is looking for a ninth chase victory from his 37th start as a boost for the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Four contest the closing 4.35pm bumper with the Martin Keighley trained Spanish Present, under James Best, likely favourite on his first outing since finishing third at Fairyhouse when trained in Ireland by Peter Cashman.

Preview of Runners for Valentines Race Day, Friday 18th February


More than 80 horses have been entered for Valentines Race Day, Friday’s (February 18) seven-race meeting at Fakenham which features the £20,000 Tim Barclay Memorial Handicap Chase over 21 furlongs.

Lucy Wadham, Dan Skelton and Peter Bowen, all with cracking records at the north Norfolk venue, have runners entered in the contest, off at 3.25pm., on anticipated good to soft going.

There are 15 entries for the feature with Bryony Frost booked for Wadham’s Admiral Barratry, a nine-year-old gelding fifth last time at Lingfield following a Fakenham success at the pre-Christmas meeting.

Skelton has entered Go Steady, a Leicester runner-up in January while Bowen makes the trip from his base in Wales to possibly try his luck with Downtown Getaway, a December winner at Ffos Las.

Other entries include Fontwell runner-up Foxboro, with Angus Cheleda booked to ride for trainer Robert Walford, and five-year-old Raffles Gitane, a recent Huntingdon winner from Harry Whittington’s stable.

The earlier chase is the Sculthorpe Novice Chase at 2pm which sees Rostello entered by Dr Richard Newland. The seven-year-old will have to carry a five-pound penalty after winning at the course last week. Among possible rivals are Passing Secrets, Tom Gretton’s gelding second in his last three outings, including when beaten by Rostello at Huntingdon on Boxing Day.

Action starts at 1.15pm with the Holt Selling Hurdle, entries for which include Charlie Pogson’s The Raven’s Return, a recent Market Rasen second, and Olly Murphy’s Hey Bob, a Plumpton winner in December.

The 1.50pm Helhoughton Novice Handicap Hurdle may feature some Fakenham favourites with entries from Newland for Thirtyfourstitches, a Fakenham winner last week and at the January meeting, and Here Comes Henry, a Fakenham winner on New Year’s Day from Stuart Edmunds’ yard.

There are nine entries for the 2.55pm British EBF Novice Hurdle and they include Peejaybee with James Bowen booked to ride for trainer Richard Spencer on a gelding successful at Sandown earlier this month.

The William Bulwer Long Memorial Hunter Chase at 4pm sees 14 entered for the three-miler including the Paul Nicholls trained Shantou Flyer, along with experienced chasers Desire De Joie and grey gelding Midnight Cowboy.

The day ends with the 4.35pm Fakenham Open NH Flat race over two miles for which Murphy has entered his five-year-old gelding Bobby Socks, runner-up on debut at Lingfield in December, with Aidan Coleman booked to ride.

Report from Wednesday 9th February Race Meeting


Finn Lambert rode only the second winner of his career when grabbing the £20,000 Little Snoring Handicap Hurdle at Fakenham.

Lambert was on the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Ballyandy who won for the first time in two years, romping away from three rivals to score by 18 lengths.

There was little between the quartet of runners on the first two circuits and it wasn’t until the final lap that the race developed. Potters Hedger and Kansas City Chief were ahead two furlongs out before 22-year-old Lambert got a terrific run out of the 9/4 winner.

“It was brilliant. I couldn’t believe how far ahead he was. The further we went the better for him,” said Lambert, whose first winner was in November.

Swinging London booked a shot at the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle (The Fred Winter) at the Cheltenham Festival with an impressive success in the Toftrees Maiden Hurdle.

Trained by Olly Murphy and ridden by Aidan Coleman, the 8/13 favourite delivered the spoils after an emphatic display.

“He was a bit fresh but didn’t miss a beat. I imagine he will head for the Fred Winter,” said Murphy, who revealed that the gelding was also entered for a hurdle race in America in the summer.

It was Swinging London’s debut for Murphy, having previously twice been third in Ireland when trained by Ellmarie Holden.

Thirtyfourstitches, a frontrunning winner at Fakenham three weeks ago, repeated the feat in the Brisley Primary Academy Handicap Hurdle.

The Richard Newland trained gelding made every yard to win at 100/30 to record the Droitwich handler’s 50th victory of the season.

Ridden by Cillin Leonard, Thirtyfourstitches came under pressure from Sainte Doctor rounding the final bend, but the seven-year-old had enough to score by a length.

Newland and Leonard went on to complete a double when top weight Rostello won the Hellesdon Leather and Cloth Furniture Company Chase at 9/4.

Long-time leader Court Jurado was clear but Leonard conjured a fine run from Rostello, third at Fakenham last time, and the gelding pulled clear to run out an easy victor.

The Laura Morgan trained Radetzky March made a winning chasing debut when taking the Racing To School Novice Chase. Under David Noonan, the seven-year-old was quietly ridden before cruising around the two frontrunners two furlongs out, to win at 9/2.

The closing Mares’ Hurdle provided a terrific finish and went to Stuart Edmunds’ Midnight Murphy under Ciaran Gethings, who repeated her win at the course 23 days earlier, returned at 11/4, a neck ahead of two fast-finishing rivals.

Declared Runners for Wednesday 9th February Race Meeting


Horses with good records at Fakenham are returning in numbers on Wednesday for the north Norfolk course’s six-race card featuring the £20,000 Little Snoring Handicap Hurdle.

Both the 1.52pm opening contest and the 4.25pm finale feature runners successful the last time they raced at Fakenham.

The Dr Richard Newland trained Thirtyfourstitches, with Cillin Leonard riding, won on New Year’s Day at the course and looks favourite to take the Pudding Norton Handicap Hurdle.

The seven-year-old gelding has four rivals including the Lucy Wadham trained Tiny Tantrum, second and third at the track over a longer distance, while the Neil Mulholland trained and Richie McLernon ridden grey mare Sainte Doctor, also holds top hopes after finishing second at Warwick last month.

Midnight Mary, Ratoute Yutty and Avithos were first, second and fourth in January at Fakenham and all three contest the closing Coxford Mares Hurdle.

Cieran Gethings partners Stuart Edmunds’ Midnight Mary, Lewis Stones rides Wymondham-based Caroline Fryer’s Ratoute Yutty and Mark Gillard runs Avithos, fourth last time.

Only four go in the 3.52pm feature, the Little Snoring Hurdle, headed by Cheltenham specialist Kansas City Chief under Victoria Malzard.

The 13-year-old gelding was second at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day in the Paddy Power Hurdle after winning the Citipost Hurdle in December and the Pertempts Network Hurdle in October also at the Gloucestershire course.

Rivals are Ballyandy for Nigel Twiston-Davies, a Wetherby runner-up, Potters Hedger under Jack Quinlan for Wadham, fourth last time but a Fakenham winner back in May 2018, and Edmunds’ Havana Hermano, seventh in Kansas City Chief’s race in October.

The first of the day’s two chases is the 2.22pm Sherefore Novice Chase in which Richard Patrick rides Deborah Faulkner’s Taunton winner Mister Robbo. The Olly Murphy trained Dubai Guest  was a Fakenham runner-up last month and a Fakenham winner in November and looks a threat.

Six go in the 3.22pm Hellesdon Leather and Cloth Furniture Chase with Rostello favourite for Dr Newland and Leonard after finishing third at the course in January. Main rival is Page Fuller’s mount for Jennie Candish, Zuckerberg.

Eight go in the 2.53 Toftrees Maiden Hurdle with Aidan Coleman on Murphy’s Swinging London, having a first run for Murphy following a move from the Irish stable of Ellmarie Holden. High Tech, a Ludlow runner-up on hurdling debut at Ludlow for Dr Newland, also has a major chance of making a hugely successful day for the Worcestershire handler.

Preview of Runners for Wednesday 9th February


Kansas City Chief, a Cheltenham hero under Victoria Malzard this season, is among the initial nine entries for the £20,000 Little Snoring Handicap Hurdle, the feature of Wednesday’s (February 9) six-race card at Fakenham, off at 3.52pm.

The 13-year-old was second at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle after earlier winning at the same course in December when taking the Citipost Handicap Hurdle, and in October, when winning the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.

Should trainer Neil Mulholland decide to run the veteran gelding, his main rival may be the Lucy Wadham trained Terresita, the five-year-old mare a winner over course and distance on New Year’s Day, before finishing runner-up at Ludlow three weeks later.

Newmarket-based Wadham has a magnificent strike rate at Fakenham and initial entries give her several good chances to add to her winning tally at the north Norfolk venue.

In the opening 1.52pm Pudding Norton Handicap Hurdle, Wadham has both Glutnforpunishment and Tiny Tantrum entered, although the main rival could be Dr Richard Newland’s Thirtyfourstitches, a course and distance winner on New Year’s Day. Another former Fakenham winner entered is Conceroe, under Jack Andrews, a scorer at the pre-Christmas fixture for trainer Ben Case.

Wadham also has Brandisova in the finale, the 4.25pm Coxford Mares Handicap Hurdle. The six-year-old was runner-up last time out at Warwick in December. One rival may be Wymondham trainer Caroline Fryer’s mare, Ratoute Yutty, a Fakenham runner-up in January when the complete outsider in the field.

Another former Fakenham winner, Ajay’s Ways, has been entered by trainer Fergal O’Brien for the 2.22pm Shereford Novice Chase. Main rival could be the Deborah Faulkner trained Mister Robbo, the 11-year-old gelding successful at Taunton in November.

Another highly successful trainer at Fakenham, Olly Murphy, has Swinging London entered in the 2.52pm Toftrees Maiden Hurdle. The four-year-old makes his debut for Murphy, having moved from Irish trainer Ellmarie Holden, for whom the gelding was third at Cork in December. A threat could be Daniel Steele’s Gold Souk under Daniel Sansom, the gelding having been third at Huntingdon last week.

The 3.22pm Hellesdon Leather and Cloth Furnishing Company Chase sees Rostello among the initial entries, trainer Dr Newland’s gelding third at Fakenham in January following an earlier Huntingdon success. In the same race, trainer Jennie Candish has Zuckerberg entered, the gelding finishing fifth at Leicester and third at Huntingdon, both in January.

Report from Monday 17th January Race Meeting


Legendary Welsh trainer Dai Burchell saddled what will probably be the final winner of a 40-year training career when Good Impression landed the opener at Fakenham on Monday.

Burchell, from Ebbw Vale, was on the road for almost four and a half hours to reach a sunny Fakenham and saw Good Impression score cosily under Ben Jones, returned at 4/1 in the novices’ handicap hurdle.

Burchell, who will be 85 in February when he officially retires, was delighted by the success.

“Possibly my last winner I suppose. But he’s got a good attitude and may run again at Uttoxeter … who knows!” he said.

Burchell has trained around 450 winners during his illustrious career, having been honoured with a lifetime achievement award in the sport in 2018.

The £12,500 Hellesdon Leather and Cloth Furniture Company Chase went to jockey Jack Quinlan, fresh from his victory on Saturday in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.

Quinlan won on 85/40 chance Somekindofstar for Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham. The gelding continued Wadham’s fantastic strike rate at Fakenham, beating Doukarov after a great display of jumping.

“He’s a cracking little horse who jumps like he’s on springs,” said Quinlan.

There was a tremendous finish to the second novices’ hurdle when the Dr Richard Newland trained Thirtyfourstitches got back up in the final strides to win at 9/4.

Having set the pace, Thirtyfourstitches slipped behind Sure Touch and William Cody. But Tom Bellamy got a terrific late burst from the gelding who squeezed home on the inside to take victory by half a length.

Trainer Fergal O’Brien moved nearer a century of winners for the season when 13/8 favourite Ajay’s Way took the novices’ chase under Kielan Wood. It was a 97th success for O’Brien with the bottom weight getting through late on to beat Dubai Guest.

Stuart Edmunds has his Newport Pagnall yard in form and 3/1 chance Midnight Mary landed the three-mile handicap hurdle.

“She’s done well really. She’s a bit of a madam. I got to the front a little early but thankfully she saw it out,” said winning rider Ciaran Gethings, whose mount scored from 50/1 outsider Ratoute Yutty, trained at Wymondham by Caroline Fryer.

The closing mares’ bumper saw Wadham complete yet another Fakenham double when newcomer Mistral Nell scored under Bryony Frost at 11/4, beating favourite Bounce Back by five lengths.