Ciaran Gethings, the leading rider at Fakenham this season, scooped the course’s top race of the year, the Snellings Norfolk National when the Stuart Edmunds’ trained Hepijeu romped home by 17 lengths over the three and a half mile plus stamina test.
The valuable race, worth almost £20,000 to the winner, had drama throughout and especially at the last of the 22 fences when champion jockey Richard Johnson’s mount Achill Road Boy came crashing down.
“We got a bit lucky but perhaps we deserved it,” said the winning trainer.
“He ran away early and I had to keep hold of him. I probably got in front too soon but he knows how to look after himself,” said Gethings, notching up his seventh winner in Norfolk this campaign.
It was a great reward for Edmunds and Gethings, the jockey having driven for more than two hours on Monday to stay overnight at the trainer’s Newport Pagnell home before a three-hour trip on Tuesday morning.
“It was a bit of a trek but obviously it’s a nice prize so well worth it,” he added, after dismounting from the 8/1 winner who scored from Doing Fine and favourite, Fifty Shades.
Top weight Butlergrove King put in a superb round of jumping to land the Snellings Handicap Chase under a great ride from Adam Wedge.
Trainer Christian Williams, who had a 530-mile round trip from his Bridgend stables, has been highly successful at the course and saw his 10-year-old returned at 4/1 in beating Kingston Mimosa, who had been third in a race at Kempton 24 hours earlier.
“He just kept trying for me and his jumping was superb. I always had enough in hand,” said Wedge.
Wedge later just failed to hold on for a shock win on Tsundoku in the Congratulations Norwich City to the Premier League Hurdle. Favourite Inessa, under Sam Twiston-Davies, had to battle really hard to get up in the last strides to take the prize for trainer Dr Richard Newland, returned at 4/7.
Former champion trainer Nicky Henderson loves sending young horses to Fakenham and Chapparal Prince, under Nico de Boinville collected the Snellings Maiden Hurdle, returned 5/4 favourite.
The race developed into a three-horse battle with long-time leader Chapparal Prince breaking his duck, by holding off Topofthecotswolds and Dancing Doug.
The opening selling hurdle went to a gelding having his final race, Movie Set, under Connor Brace for Newmarket trainer Richard Spencer.
Movie Set, returned at 7/2, was keen to lead from the tape and by the time he got to the final flight he was clear of Vancouver with favourite American Tom third.
The finale, the three-horse Hunter Chase for the Turner Trophy, went to the outsider of the trio, 2/1 chance Asockastar, under Shane Quinlan for trainer Daniel John Bourne.
Words by Terry Redhead.
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