Trainer Phil Middleton expected his bank balance to be boosted by around £50,000 after his Holly Bush Henry won Fakenham’s feature, the Wendling Chase.
Aylesbury-based Middleton, who arrived via helicopter 30 minutes before racing, had an accumulator on Saturday which resulted in three winners. He had those winners in a separate accumulator with Holly Bush Henry which meant a huge £8,000 stake was riding on the gelding, a 5/2 winner.
Middleton was suitably delighted when 16-year-old James Bowen got the gelding home after a super display of jumping.
“He had a lot of weight but was the best horse in the race,” said Bowen.
“It’s fantastic. It all fell in place on Saturday and to see Henry win here was great,” said Middleton, gleefully clutching his betting slip.
While Middleton was the richer, fellow trainer Olly Murphy was in great form and pulled off a remarkable 1,228/1 four-timer.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson conjured up a terrific last leap from grey mare Hurricane Rita to clinch the opener.
The eight-year-old, Murphy’s ninth winner at the course this season, launched herself over the final flight to win at 7/2.
“It was hard work, very sticky, but she’s done it well,” said Johnson. “It’s another for Olly who is having a great start as a trainer,” he added.
Johnson was beaten in the novice hurdle on odds-on Rio Quinto but that failed to stop the Murphy bandwagon as stablemate Piri Massini took the honours thanks to a pulsating final flourish under Norfolk-based Fergus Gregory.
Returned at 20/1 for Murphy, Piri Massini is owned by the stable’s sponsors and was having his first run since November 2015 following injury.
“No-one expected that. Richard said the leader got lonely in front and my horse kept staying on and surprised us all,” said Gregory, from Thompson near Watton.
Johnson went on to complete a double and Murphy’s treble when Wood Pigeon won a dramatic chase in which only three finished. Returned at 9/4, Wood Pigeon thwarted Scottish raider Achill Road Boy.
“It’s been a great day, a magic day,” said Murphy who then saw it get even better when Gregory completed his own double and Murphy’s four-timer when getting 3/1 chance Bisoubisou home in the finale.
Cambridgeshire winner Dolphin Vista, a 50/1 shock scorer at Newmarket in September, put up a brave hurdling debut but could not catch maiden hurdle winner Potters Midnight, returned at 11/4 under Leighton Aspell for trainer Lucy Wadham.
Words by Terry Redhead
Congrats to trainer Olly Murphy!
— Great British Racing (@GBRacing) January 22, 2018