Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies bounced back from a fall in the opening race to collect the spoils on the classy Paul Nicholls trained Act of Valour in the novice hurdle, one of the championship hurdle series, at Fakenham’s rescheduled meeting on Saturday.
Odds-on favourite Pacific De Baune, trained by Nicky Henderson, set the pace but the grey gelding could not hold off Act of Valour, returned at 2/1, who was 12lbs better off at the weights.
Midfield in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Act of Valour will now go for the series final.
“He did it very well. We didn’t think Henderson’s horse could give us 12lbs and beat us and so it proved,” said a delighted Twiston-Davies.
That opening race fall left Twiston-Davies sore and he pulled out of the feature race, the David Keith Memorial Chase and was replaced by Daryl Jacob who duly survived a stewards’ enquiry to win on Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Templehills.
Fakenham regular Princeton Royale looked as if he might at last get his nose in front but the top weight and 15/8 favourite had enough to score despite jumping to his left at the final fence.
Trouble with the horsebox, which twice broke down en route from Wantage, and a subsequent late arrival at the course, couldn’t prevent Step Back from winning the Racing Partnership Chase under Nico de Boinville for trainer Mark Bradstock.
The gelding led from start to finish for a first success over fences, returned the odds-on 8/13 favourite and in scoring, completed a double for the jockey.
Global Domination got his reward for a consistent season which had seen him placed in his last four starts, when picking off the front two after the final fence to take the handicap chase under Sean Bowen.
Returned the 15/8 favourite, Global Domination was adrift of the leading pair approaching the last. But after a superb leap, Bowen drove past his rivals to score.
“He deserved that. We’ve wanted better ground and we’ve got it today. Together with adding a tongue strap, it all seemed to do the trick,” said trainer Caroline Bailey.
Norfolk-based jockey Fergus Gregory lost his seven-pound claim when he recorded his fifth win of the season at the course, partnering the Dan Skelton trained Ashkoul to victory in the opening Dunton Handicap Hurdle.
Gregory, from Thompson near Watton, produced the 9/2 chance to cruise by Dinsdale to follow up a recent Market Rasen success. In clocking up his 20th winner of his career, Gregory’s claim was reduced to five pounds.
Top weight Le Breuil, last seen in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, won a dramatic handicap hurdle under de Boinville for trainer Ben Pauling.
Maxime Tissier charged through on Lucy Wadham’s grey mare Iconic Sky and celebrated when passing the winning line before realising there was another circuit to go. That left favourite Le Breuil in front and he held off all challengers to win from Sir Mangan, returned at 2/1. The blunder by Tissier, earned him a 14-day suspension handed down by the stewards.
The finale, the bumper, was won by Before Midnight, the 4/5 favourite winning by a nose to complete a treble for de Boinville. The winner was trained by Nicky Henderson, who coincidentally won as a jockey the last time Fakenham staged a Saturday meeting, in September 1975.
Words by Terry Redhead