Trainer Neil King’s Princeton Royale was given a tremendous ride by Jack Andrews to land the Jarrold Ladies Day Chase on a perfect day to close the 2017/18 season at Fakenham yesterday.
Andrews, more than six feet tall, sent Princeton Royale, twice a runner-up at the course this season, off in front and he never saw another rival as he galloped home over the three miles and 18 fences, returned the 5/2 joint-favourite and winner by five lengths.
“He deserved that. I would be great to have a yard full of horses like him. Now he has won his last two and that makes up for three seconds earlier in the season,” said a delighted King.
“He loves to be out in front on his own. He jumped so well and kept going that he put all the others under pressure,” said 20-year-old Jack, younger brother of Gina and Bridget Andrews.
It was near-perfect performance from the winner on what David Hunter, Fakenham’s Chief Executive and clerk of the course described as a ‘perfect day’. A huge crowd, the biggest at the course for many years, were able to enjoy the racing in glorious sunshine.
Any horse running on ladies day called Fifty Shades had to be a grey and that gelding duly obliged in a thrilling opening Pedlars Hall Café Double Bubble Breakfast Handicap Hurdle.
Produced by James Bowen having been held up towards the back of the field, Fifty Shades battled to hold off West To Crossgales to take the honours.
Trained by Christian Williams, who had made the 500-mile round trip from South Wales, Fifty Shades, the 10/11 favourite, went one better than when beaten by a narrow margin at Huntingdon on Bank Holiday Monday.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson had just one ride and made it a winning one on the Olly Murphy trained Yensir. Third on hurdling debut, 7/2 chance Yensir improved to take the Britbet Coming Soon Maiden Hurdle by a length from Sam Twiston-Davies on favourite Artful Artist.
It was Johnson’s 10th winner of the season at Fakenham, earning him the David Turner Trophy as the course’s leading rider of the campaign. And Murphy collected a couple of bottles of champagne following what was his 16th Fakenham winner of the season, his first as a trainer.
There was drama in the Wordingham Plant Hire Novice Chase when favourite Le Precieux fell in front of the packed stands. That left Master of Finance to fight it out with Gin and Tonic and the Lucy Wadham trained gelding took the spoils at 2/1 under Maxime Tissier.
Jockey Paige Fuller stole the Aylsham Show August Bank Holiday Hurdle for lady amateur riders on Havisham for trainer Jamie Snowden. No-one wanted to take it up at the off so Fuller stormed 25 lengths clear early on and held on comfortably to score at 6/1 in a race where none of the winners’ six rivals ever looked like getting involved.
The meeting came to a perfect finale when Midnight Bliss won the 1st The Queens Dragoons Guards Novice Chase.
The mare, ridden by the season’s top female jump jockey Bryony Frost and trained locally at Wymondham by her owner Caroline Fryer, led from start to finish to score in style at 5/2. Having won three point-to-points, Midnight Bliss provided Frost with her first Fakenham success in a dramatic race which saw just three runners complete the three-miles plus contest.
Words by Terry Redhead