18th Dec 2018

Bargain buy pays off for the Martin family

It was a real family affair at Fakenham when Militarian, who cost just £650 three years ago at the Ascot sales, took the £10,000 plus feature chase.

Trainer Andrew Martin’s small family yard at Chipping Norton is home to the eight-year-old gelding expertly ridden by his son James to land the spoils at 7/2 from favourite Forth Bridge, owned by The Queen.

“It’s not easy being a small trainer so this is a tremendous win for the team. I bought Militarian three years ago at the Ascot sales. I think the price of £650 must have been an oversight. But we have done a lot of work with him,” said Martin.

A winner at Taunton three weeks ago, Militarian was always near the head of the five-runner field and was well produced by his amateur rider to win by three-quarters of a length.

“I was a permit holder for four years and only took out a full licence last year,” added the trainer, who admitted he was nervous watching his son in the saddle.

“The horse is very lightly raced but tries so hard. We’ve done a lot of work with him and now it’s paying off,” said jockey James.

Champion jockey Richard Johnson and trainer Olly Murphy had a strong hand on paper for the six-race card and they scored in the handicap hurdle when Todd finally got his nose in front.

The gelding had finished second and third at the Norfolk track but went one better, winning at 9/4 after a thriller which saw four horses in a line as they sized up the final flight.

But it was Todd who proved the stronger, winning by half a length from the well-supported Young Phoenix in a driving finish.

However, Murphy and Johnson fell foul of the stewards in the handicap hurdle. Favourite The Very Thing was produced by Johnson before the final bend and just got up to beat Working Class, under Harrison Beswick for Oliver Sherwood, by a head. However, after a stewards’ enquiry, Working Class, at 11/2, was awarded the contest, Johnson’s mount having come into contact with his rival more than once.

As well as losing the race, Johnson was banned for two days for careless riding.

The Princess Royal’s Chequered View just got the better of top weight Thomas Todd to win the second chase of the day under Conor Shoemark for trainer Martin Keighley. The 5/2 chance and the runner-up were side by side at the last but Chequered View just prevailed in another exciting finish.

Newport Pagnell trainer Stuart Edmunds doesn’t like leaving Fakenham without a prize and his only runner on the card, A Little Chaos, duly obliged in the opening mares’ novice hurdle.

Ridden by Ciaran Gethings, the four-year-old filly made every yard of the two-mile trip to win at 9/1 from favourite Sula Island who never threatened to get on terms.

“She ran very well at Ludlow, then had an off day but today was her day again. She was always in control and had them off the bridle down the back straight,” said the trainer.

The finale provided a real upset when Kilbrew Boy under Kielan Woods for trainer Ben Case, won at 11/4, beating the odds-on favourite, French import Doncesar De Pretot.

Next Fakenham meeting is on New Year’s Day, starting at 12.45pm and the course has a further meeting on Thursday, January 24 with an additional fixture the following Thursday, January 31.

Words by Terry Redhead 



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David Hunter