Hepijeu, winner of the Norfolk National in May, returned to a Fakenham bathed in the sunshine to add the Jarrold Ladies Day Chase to his roll of honour.
While some thought Hepijeu a little lucky to take the National, when his nearest rival fell at the final fence, there was nothing fortunate about this victory under the course’s leading rider of the season, Ciaran Gethings.
The 5/2 chance timed his effort perfectly and ran clear to beat Fifty Shades in a thrilling five-runner contest in which all jumped superbly.
“I love coming here. It’s always in great condition with a lovely covering of grass. I’ve won here 11 times and 10 of those have been for Hepijeu’s trainer Stuart Edmunds. The horse travelled so well today,” he added. Trainer Edmunds missed the success, away in Ireland.
Gethings collected the David Turner Trophy as the season’s leading rider in north Norfolk, having managed eight victories, three more than nearest rival James Bowen.
Bryony Frost was beaming with joy after taking the Longwater Construction Supplies Novice Chase after a superb round of jumping on trainer Neil King’s Regulation.
The 10-year-old gelding switched from hurdles to chasing a fortnight ago and won a three-runner contest at Stratford. And he made it two from two after leading from start to finish, returned at 7/2.
“He was magic. He’s a real pocket rocket. It’s great when you can trust in your horse and he never put a foot wrong. I really fancied him on this ground and he never let me down,” said Bryony, who scored by six lengths from Templepark with favourite Felix Mendelssohn third.
Just four went in the opening Stibbard Handicap Hurdle and there was a minor shock when hat-trick seeking Sirobbie was turned over by 3/1 chance West to Crossgales.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson stalked the 4/9 favourite from the start before pressing the accelerator around the final bend in the three-mile contest to land the spoils for trainer Charlie Pogson by more than a length. It was the eight-year-old gelding’s first win under rules in a race in which he had finished second last year.
Sam Twiston-Davies was full of praise for trainer Dr Richard Newland after YCCS Portocervo pulled off a shock 9/1 success in the Wordingham Plant Hire Ltd Maiden Hurdle.
The French-bred grey gelding had run out at Warwick on his British debut but with a hood to calm him down and a left-handed track, everything was in his favour and he led from start to finish.
“That was a good run round. I like him a lot. The trainer’s horses are really happy horses and are running well at the moment,” said the winning jockey.
There was drama in the lady amateur riders’ contest when Angel of the North slipped up approaching the final bend giving leading point-to-point rider Gina Andrews a nasty-looking fall.
That left two horses clear but they were picked off by 11/8 favourite Cottonvale, who raced home from a long way adrift to win under Isabel Williams for trainer Christian Williams.
The finale further boosted trainer David Pipe’s terrific strike rate at Fakenham when Max Do Brazil under Tom Scudamore won the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards Novice Chase for the Prince of Wales Cup, returned at 15/8.
Words by Terry Redhead
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