Chairman Ian Mason talks about racing over the coming weeks and welcoming people back to the course.
Chairman Ian Mason talks about racing over the coming weeks and welcoming people back to the course.
Leading trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville bid to book-end this afternoon’s seven-race card at Fakenham.
In the 1.10pm opener on Greene King race day, Henderson and de Boinville hold a favourite’s chance with Falco Blitz, a gelding second in two of his four hurdle contests. Last time he was runner-up at Newton Abbott, despite going off 4/7 favourite, beaten by a rival who has won again since. Main rival is High Change, a winner on hurdles debut for trainer Charlie Hills at Ffos Las.
In the 4.10pm finale, Henderson and De Boinville have debutant Hijack, a four-year-old tipped to make a good start in the National Hunt flat race.
Another debutant, Ever So Cool, under Harry Skelton for brother Dan, is fancied while one with experience is Largy Mouth, having the first run for Brian Ellison, having scored on debut at Ayr.
The £14,000 feature is the 2.40pm Greene King Novice Chase for which five go, headed by Nube Negra for the Skeltons. The five-year-old won at Warwick this month and faces four rivals, including Ar Mest and Fleur Irlandaise.
Ar Mest, under Josh Moore for father Gary, makes a chase debut while Fleur Irlandaise makes her debut for Nick Littmoden. Jack Quinlan rides the filly who won at Dieppe in August when trained by Yannick Fouin.
Greene King also sponsors two hurdle races. The 1.40pm could go to Brambledown who looks to go one better than his last two runs. The Gary Moore gelding was runner-up at Ludlow after having been beaten into the second spot at Plumpton. Musical Stardust, under Kielan Woods for Alex Hales, also holds a chance, the mare third last time out.
The 3.10pm handicap hurdle sees trainer Tim Vaughan and jockey Alan Johns make the trip from Wales with Nathan’s Pride, fourth last time at Fontwell. Also hopeful is Richard Dunne on Neil Mulholland’s The Detainee, third at Exeter recently.
The second chase, at 3.40pm sees Johns and Vaughan run Twasn’t the Plan, second at Ffos Las a fortnight ago while Nigel Twiston-Davies legs up Jordan Nailor on Double Court, second at Perth last time.
At 2.10pm eight debutants go in the fillies’ juvenile hurdle. Worth checking are Alan King’s grey filly Midnight Gift and Ellison’s Juals Spirit.
Selections: 1.10pm Falco Blitz, 1.40pm Brambledown, 2.10pm Midnight’s Gift, 2.40pm Ar Mest, 3.10pm The Detainee, 3.40pm Twasn’t the Plan, 4.10pm Hijack.
Words by Terry Redhead.
Fakenham Racecourse is delighted to confirm a new partnership with local Fakenham couple Rajan and Rita Verma who will run a new restaurant on racedays that will offer the finest cuisine from the Punjab region of India. The new Punjabi Cuisine Restaurant, which is in the Course Enclosure overlooking the parade ring, replaces Weston’s Seafood Restaurant which finished in June when the long serving and very affable owner, Willie Weston, decided to semi retire and reduce his working hours. Thus, Fakenham Racecourse saw an opportunity to work with another independent and local catering business.
David Hunter, Chief Executive of Fakenham Racecourse said:
‘Willy and his family have provided an outstanding seafood restaurant at Fakenham Races for many years, for which we are very grateful. On his retirement, we had the opportunity to work with an alternative local catering business and we felt that a change might be appreciated. Raj and Rita have an established food business, Currylicious, which provides outstanding Indian food that is inspired by the Punjab region which is where Raj and Rita families originate. It will be a real joy to work with them and I know they will provide a local, friendly, seasonal and fun service which will produce the very best of Punjab flavoured food.’
Rajan and Rita started their business in 2017 after discovering there was a gap in the market for a unique home cooked Indian food with a difference. So far, the business has mainly focused on supplying the retail sector, cooking for private parties and events and a mobile catering unit attending farmers’ and local markets.
Rajan Verma said:
“We have worked closely with the racecourse to completely redesign and redecorate the restaurant and bar to give it fresh, upbeat feel and we are very excited and thoroughly looking forward to welcoming diners at the race meeting on Friday 18th October. We pride ourselves on the ethos that all our food is home cooked, locally sourced and the recipes have been handed down the generations. The result is an infusion of delicate spices to bring you the real taste of India without overbearing heat or mouth burning of the pallet. Further to this we have focused on the healthy aspect of Indian cooking and all our curries are cooked in their natural juices without any added fat such as ghee, butter or oil.”
The people from Punjab mainly eat vegetarian dishes and meat is only eaten during special occasions, but the menu at Fakenham Races will offer meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes to suit all tastes. Racegoers will also be able to buy food to take away and the newly refurbished Parade Ring Bar will quench the thirsts of the diners and racegoers alike!
To book a table at the Punjabi Cuisine Restaurant please ring 07957 402402 or email email@example.com .
Stuart Edmunds is keen to give useful hurdler Theclockisticking his first start over fences in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Beginners’ Chase at Fakenham on Tuesday 20th November.
The three-mile prize, which is the feature contest on the six-race card, has attracted nine entries after it was re-opened including the six-year-old who already has one victory at the Norfolk track to his name after running an emphatic 32 length winner of a two-mile novice hurdle last October.
“The plan is to go to Fakenham with Theclockisticking,” said Edmunds.
“He has proved himself around there and Fakenham can be quite a specialist track. We thought let’s go there again and the prize money is also very good. The handicapper has probably got him over hurdles so we felt the time is right to have a go over fences. He has done lots of schooling over fences and has been very good while he has also run in a couple of point-to-points. He is not the biggest but I can’t see why he wouldn’t be as good over fences. He will run until the ground goes very soft and that is one reason why we are going to Fakenham as it looks like it is going to be good there.”
Two Irish raiders feature among 13 entries received for the Christian Williams’ Racing Club Mares’ Handicap Hurdle in the form of the Emmet Mullins-trained Yeats Baby and Slainte And Thanks from the yard of Garrett Ahern, who also has Sweet Destination among the 11 entries in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Foreign Exchange Mares’ Handicap Chase.
Donald McCain is a rare raider to the course but he could have two potential runners at the meeting with last time Kelso scorer Middlebrow among the 10 entries in the Weatherbys VAT Services’ Handicap Chase and Promise Of Peace who features among 13 names received for the MF Sporting Ltd-Fitzroy’s 60th Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
There is often no shortage of runners at the track from trainer Olly Murphy and the Wilmcote handler is well represented once again with nine entries throughout the card including Mizen Master, The Geegeez Geegee and Todd in the Racing Partnership Selling Hurdle which gets the action underway at 1pm.
David Hunter, the clerk of the course, said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming all runners and riders on Tuesday and it is fantastic to have Weatherbys as the race day sponsor. Hopefully, it will be a busy and exciting day of racing to follow on from two highly successful meetings that we have already stage this season.”
A faller nine days ago at Plumpton, Knocknanuss quickly gained compensation when landing the £14,000 Greene King IPA Novice Chase at Fakenham.
“I was surprised when he fell at Plumpton. But once we knew he was ok both my dad and I said Fakenham next week,” said winning rider Jamie Moore, son of Sussex-based trainer Gary.
“He is very keen but on his day he’s a decent sort. I’m pleased for the owners, they deserve this good prize,” he added.
The 9/4 chance was left clear when odds-on favourite Movewiththetimes crashed out down the back straight after another key rival, The Linksman, had fallen at the open ditch.
There had been better times for Movewiththetimes’ jockey Barry Geragthy when his mount made a winning debut over hurdles in the opener. The odds-on Didtheyleaveuoutto got up in the dying strides to defeat pacesetter Starjac.
The Nick Gifford trained five-year-old had shown smart form in bumpers and jumped well, returned the 2/5 favourite in a slowly run contest.
Tom Scudamore made the trip from trainer David Pipe’s Somerset yard worthwhile when he landed the Greene King handicap hurdle on 4/1 chance Jacbequick.
Always up with the leaders, Jacbequick had enough left to hold off Mauricio and My Brother.
“He was brilliant. He is such a professional at home and on the track. He won eight times on the flat and has now won over hurdles,” said Scudamore, after his only ride of the afternoon.
You can’t ignore Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham at Fakenham and her Dance To Paris made a winning hurdles debut under Leighton Aspell.
Hot favourite Lisa De Vassy was pulled up and left 5/1 chance Dance To Paris to waltz home in the fillies’ juvenile event, beating outsider Powerful Society.
Our Reward demolished his six rivals to coast home in the handicap hurdle by 26 lengths under Jack Quinlan for trainer Jamie Snowden. Nothing challenged the leader who was returned at 3/1.
Gavin Sheehan produced favourite Beau Sancy perfectly to take the Greene King Chase for trainer Olly Murphy. Sheehan took it up before the last to get his 15/8 gelding home to complete a hat-trick of victories.
Murphy then completed a swift double when his Skandiburg, under Fergus Gregory, won the finale, the two-mile bumper at 5/6.
Words by Terry Redhead
British horseracing attendances stood up well to the country’s worst weather in years from January to June, with the average attendance per fixture more than 3% up on 2017, despite the abandonment of 69 race meetings.
The total number of attendees in the first half of 2018 was 2,753,397 at 704 fixtures, slightly down on the same period for 2017, but given the challenging weather conditions in the first three months or so of the year, that figure is viewed positively by the industry.
With 69 abandonments, considerably more than the 18 during the same period in 2017, a total of 22 short-notice replacement fixtures took place, providing opportunities for horsemen and also to ensure levy continued to be generated. Despite having been arranged at speed, providing the public and bookmakers with limited notice, these fixtures still attracted more than 11,000 racegoers in total.
Despite these challenges, the average attendance for the first half of 2018 was 3,911, compared to 3,787 last year.
Encouragingly, the major festivals during the first half of the year have performed well, with The Festival at Cheltenham, the Randox Grand National, the Boodles May Festival, The Investec Derby Festival and Royal Ascot all growing attendances year on year from 2017 to 2018.
|Year||Total Attendance (January to June)||Fixtures Staged||Average Attendance|
Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive at the Racecourse Association (RCA) commented:
“The weather conditions experienced so far in 2018 have been the most challenging that racing has faced for some considerable time. To see our average attendance increase during this period is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the racecourse teams in all disciplines, but particular praise must go to ground staff, who have worked tirelessly in incredibly challenging conditions across the country. We are also grateful to horsemen and BHA for their support.
“I’m thrilled to see the crown jewels of our sport retaining their affinity with the public and performing so well. The increased publicity around events such as The Festival, the Randox Health Grand National and Royal Ascot can only benefit the sport.
“The industry as a whole is working on some fantastic initiatives to ensure we can offer a wonderful day out for racegoers that provides value for money. Our data programme with Great British Racing (GBR) is helping all racecourses to understand further the expectations of racegoers and GBR’s U18s Race Free campaign has injected some stardust with David Walliams and Billy Jenkins helping to promote racing’s unique offering to under 18s.”
When it comes to data at Fakenham Racecourse, in 2017 the attendance figures between January and June were at 16, 957. That is to include the two abandoned meetings in early January 2017. For the same date range in 2018, the figures show attendance of 16, 107; however, this is to include 2 abandoned race meetings, one of which, was Easter Monday – historically known to be the best-attended race day in Fakenham Racecourse calendar with average attendance numbers between 3,500 and 4,500 people.
So while on the paper Fakenham attendances are slightly down from 2017, it is safe to say that should the Easter Monday was not abandoned, there would be some growth in attendance correlating with the report form RCA.
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
The ‘Ladies’ will bring down the curtain on Fakenham’s National Hunt season on Sunday when the north Norfolk course holds its annual Jarrold Ladies Day six-race meeting.
There are prizes available for the best-dressed ladies while the far from an insignificant matter of six top races should keep punters happy from 2.20pm to 4.55pm.
The feature race is the 2.50pm Jarrold Ladies Day Handicap Chase over three miles and 18 fences worth more than £10,000 to the winner.
Trainer Neil King has Fakenham regular Princeton Royale among the 12 entries, the nine-year-old gelding a Stratford winner over a shorter trip in April, having twice been runner-up at Fakenham early in the year.
Jonjo O’Neill has Easy Street, an eight-year-old successful at Warwick early in May while Hedgeinator, from Christian Williams’ stable, returns to the course where he was fourth a month ago in the Snellings Norfolk National behind Emerald Rose, having previously won at Sedgefield and Ludlow.
While the class three contest is the day’s highlight, the 3.55pm Wordingham Plant Hire Novice Chase over two miles also promises to be compelling.
Among those entered are Michael Wigham’s previous course winner Gin and Tonic, a runner-up on Bank Holiday Monday at Huntingdon, Muhtaris, a Uttoxeter winner at the weekend for trainer Ian Williams, and Tikkinthebox, Jeremy Scott’s six-year-old gelding a May winner at Wincanton, following an earlier victory at Taunton.
Lady amateur riders get their chance to shine in the 4.25pm handicap hurdle in which Stratford-based trainer Olly Murphy, by far the most successful trainer at the course this season, has three entered. They are former course winner Bisoubisou, Emma’s Dilemma, third at Market Rasen earlier this month, and Flow With Eve, fourth at that Lincolnshire course on the same card.
The finale is the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards Novice Handicap Chase for which a dozen have been entered, including Millen Dollar Man, trained by Alex Dunn in Somerset, and a winner at Fakenham at the last meeting. The nine-year-old faces a step up in trip in the three-miler.
The day opens with the 2.20pm Pedlars Hall Café Double Bubble Breakfast Handicap Hurdle in which Christian Williams has entered Fifth Shades, a Worcester winner prior to finishing runner-up at Huntingdon on Bank Holiday Monday.
At 3.25pm the King’s Lynn Maiden Hurdle over two miles has attracted an initial entry of 19, including Murphy’s Yensir, third of seven on hurdling debut at Ludlow a fortnight ago.
National Hunt racing’s big names are out in force this afternoon when Fakenham stages a seven-race re-arranged card for Saturday, 7th April following the loss of Easter Monday’s weather-hit fixture.
Top trainers Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls are represented while jockey Sam Twiston-Davies looks to add to a season that has already landed him 102 winners.
He rides for father Nigel in the feature, the 5.10pm David Keith Memorial Chase, partnering Templehills in the five-runner field, the seven-year-old down four pounds after his last run when fourth at Warwick in a higher grade event.
Main rival is Fakenham regular Princeton Royale, under Trevor Whelan for Neil King, the gelding a runner-up over course and distance in February.
At 4.35pm Twiston-Davies rides Nicholls’ Captain Buck’s in the six-runner novice chase, the gelding last seen midfield in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Sam Red under Harry Skelton for brother Dan, looks the threat, the gelding a winner at the north Norfolk track in October.
Act of Valour, ninth in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham, is Twiston-Davies’ ride for Nicholls in the 3.25pm novice hurdle where he takes on Pacific De Baune under Nico de Boinville for Henderson. The five-year-old grey gelding was a Newbury winner a fortnight ago while Ben Pauling runs Oistrakh Le Noir under Daryl Jacob in an intriguing six-runner two-miler.
Pauling has a chance in the 4pm handicap hurdle with Le Breuil, under De Boinville, midfield in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham although Indian Hawk for Jacob and Henderson could go off market leader despite being pulled up last time at Sandown.
If things have gone well for Twiston-Davies earlier, he could finish the day in style on his father’s debutant Earlofthecotswolds in the bumper at 5.40pm. But the one to beat may be Henderson’s Before Midnight, a winner on debut at Bangor.
Racing starts at 2.15pm with a hurdle featuring a field of eight, headed by Skelton’s Ashkoul under Norfolk-based Fergus Gregory. Gregarious for Lucy Wadham and Walsingham Grange for Pam Sly go, having been first and third respectively at Towcester three weeks ago.
The 2.50pm chase could go to Global Domination under Sean Bowen although former Fakenham winner Heresmynumber, and Little Windmill, another former course winner, may have other ideas.
Gates open at 11am and admission is a discounted £10 per adult.
Terry Redhead’s Selections:
2.15pm Gregarious; 2.50pm Global Domination; 3.25pm Oistrakh Le Noir; 4pm Indian Hawk; 4.35pm Sam Red; 5.10pm Templehills; 5.40pm Éclair De Guye.
Harry Teal and Tom Gredley, two riders still able to claim weight allowances, have top chances of landing doubles at Fakenham’s Easter Monday seven-race meeting.
Teal teams up with trainer Neil King and has outstanding hopes on Holbrook Park and Sackett.
Holbrook Park was fourth at Fontwell on March 7, following a victory at Plumpton over a shorter trip and could go well off the same mark in the 4pm feature race, the David Keith Memorial Chase over three miles..
Main rival in the four-runner contest, Sam Red, a winner at the course in October, is the favourite for Harry and Dan Skelton for a contest worth £11,000 to the winner.
Sam Red was last seen at Southwell where he was fifth and in a tight contest could also see a challenge from the Olly Murphy trained After Aspen under David England, the eight-year-old third at the course at the last meeting.
Teal rides Sackett in the 4.35pm handicap hurdle, again for King. Sackett, a seven-year-old, won at Hereford last Tuesday and carries a six-pound penalty, but he could defy that in a five-runner field in which Shinooki looks danger for Kieland Woods and trainer Alex Hales, the 11-year-old a Fakenham winner more than a year ago.
Gredley will be going for a Hunter Chase double. In the 2.50pm Robert Hoare Novice Hunter Chase, he partners Dan Skelton’s Right of Reply, the gelding having his second run since undergoing a wind operation. Main rival is Foxcub under Emma Yardley, the duo successful in February.
In the 5.10pm Queen’s Cup over three miles, Gredley rides top weight Midnight Cowboy, formerly with Alan King. The dangers in the six-runner contest are Argot for Rory Bevin, a recent Leicester scorer, and In A Blue Dust, under Archie Wright for his father, trainer Nick.
The seven-race card opens at 2.15pm with the selling hurdle in which Ascendant, winner of five of his last six starts, including at Fakenham at the last meeting and in January, will start favourite for Patrick Cowley and trainer Johnny Farrelly.
Old favourite Gin and Tonic goes under Jack Quinlan for Michael Wigham in the 3.25pm Cecil and Sheila Buttifant Memorial Hurdle and looks to have most to fear from the James Bowen partnered Ardmayle for Ali Stronge.
The finale, the mares’ flat race at 5.40pm sees seven go and Murphy has favourite It’s O Kay, a Wetherby runner-up, ridden by Norfolk-based claimer Fergus Gregory and Foxtrot Juliet, under David England although Lucy Wadham could spring a surprise with appropriately-named debutant Easter Gold.
Selections: 2.15pm Ascendant; 2.50pm Right of Reply; 3.25pm Ardmayle; 4pm Holbrook Park; 4.35pm Sackett; 5.10pm Midnight Cowboy; 5.40pm Easter Gold.
NB: There is a precautionary inspection planned for 7am on Monday.