Last year’s winner is among 22 entries for Fakenham racecourse’s longest race of the season on Tuesday, (May 7), the Snellings Norfolk National over three miles and five furlongs.
Emerald Rose, trained by Julian Smith, will look to retain his national crown and repeat last year’s feat in the near £20,000 to the winner steeplechase.
Since his victory a year ago, the 12-year-old gelding has been lightly handled with two runs in December and a seventh place last time out, in soft ground at Bangor five weeks ago.
It will be anything but soft at Fakenham where the course is currently being watered for one of the most popular race days of the season, sponsored by Norfolk-based Snellings.
Among those looking to land the 3.45pm ‘National’ are a couple bidding for hat-tricks. Trained by Jane Williams, Gamain, a 10-year-old, has won his last two races, both at Wincanton and both over more than three miles.
Dan Skelton’s six-year-old Goodthyneaway is also a hat-trick seeker although his last victory, at Southwell, was over a much shorter trip of two and a half miles.
Christian Williams has entered six-year-old grey gelding Fifty Shades, a winner at Warwick over Tuesday’s National distance, while fellow Welsh trainer Peter Bowen has Viens Chercher, a winner over a little less than three miles last time at Stratford.
Snellings sponsor the other chase on the card, the 2.40pm over two miles and five furlongs for which Global Domination, a last time winner at Market Rasen for trainer Caroline Bailey, is entered. Also among the possibles is the Sarah Humphrey trained Stonebridge Legend, the mare fifth at Huntingdon recently on the back of two wins at Fakenham in March.
The Snellings Maiden hurdle at 3.10pm has an entry from Nicky Henderson, whose horses always have to be respected when running in Norfolk, in the shape of Chapparal Prince. Also entered is the Olly Murphy trained The Butcher Said. Adrian Heskin is booked for the ride on a six-year-old second at Market Rasen a fortnight ago.
Racing starts at 2.10pm with the conditional jockey’s selling hurdle. At 4.15pm there is the TBA Mares’ Handicap Hurdle while the six-race card ends with the 4.45pm Turner Trophy Hunter Chase over three miles.
Words by Terry Redhead