A competitive field of nine runners will line-up for the £15,000 feature at this tomorrow’s seven-race card at Fakenham.
The 2.35 pm Horsemen’s Group Handicap Chase over more than two-and-a-half-miles is worth more than £8,000 to the winner and it is possible to make a case for all those declared.
Venetia Williams’ horses are always worth noting in soft conditions and she has Charlie Deutsch in the saddle on Eceparti, a six-year-old gelding third at Chepstow just after Christmas, following November wins at Wetherby and Chepstow.
Cougar’s Gold, under Sean Bowen for his dad, Welsh trainer Peter, was a runner-up at Uttoxeter in December while Thomas Todd, trained by Laura Morgan with Ryan Day in the saddle, is a previous Fakenham winner.
Jockey Jack Tudor recently hit the headlines with victory in the Welsh Grand National and he partners Richard Hobson’s Eureu Du Boulay, a Fontwell winner who was fifth last time at Leicester.
The meeting starts with a chase at 12.25 pm, with two last time winners looking to land the spoils in Fergal O’Brien’s Blue Monday and Mark Gillard’s Touch Screen.
The former, under Paddy Brennan, scored at Hereford last month while Fergus Gillard claims seven pounds on Touch Screen, who dead-heated at Lingfield this month. Key rival looks like the Olly Murphy trained Robin De Broome, third at Southwell in December on his first run after a break.
The other chase, at 1.25 pm, sees four novices line-up with Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham’s Little Light, under Maxime Tissier, a recent Leicester winner on her first run following a wind operation, and Gary Moore’s The Flying Sofa, third at Ascot and now dropping in class, as the major players.
Conditional jockeys get their chance in the three-mile handicap hurdle at 12.55 pm when former course winner Stonebrigg Legend goes for trainer Sarah Humphrey and rider Alexander Thorne, the mare facing seven opponents.
Another field of eight line-up at 2 pm for the maiden novice hurdle with Nicky Henderson running Grand Roi under Nico De Boinville. Bought in France from Laurent Viel in October, the four-year-old makes a hurdling debut after winning a NH flat race at Wincanton in December.
Seven mares tackle a two-mile hurdle race at 3.10 pm in another ultra-competitive heat. Wadham has Tissier in the saddle on Miss Heritage, a course and distance winner in December while Leighton Aspell rides the Nick Gifford trained Mystic Dreamer, runner-up at Fontwell last time.
Always worth noting at Fakenham are horses trained by Stuart Edmunds and he has Markada under Ciaran Gethings, a former Warwick winner.
The same partnership has Young Offender in the finale at 3.45 pm, the gelding a Fakenham winner over a shorter trip in December. The main threat is Murphy’s Oscar Academy, a recent Leicester winner on a first run following along absence.
Terry’s Selections: 12.25 pm Blue Monday, 12.55 pm Stonebrigg Legend, 1.25 pm The Flying Sofa, 2 pm Grand Roi, 2.35 pm Eceparti, 3.10 pm Maskada, 3.45 pm Young Offender.