Aspell just holds on to win Fakenham feature race

Connections of winner Leighton Aspell on Beforeall, including colourful character Keith Loads.
Connections of winner Leighton Aspell on Beforeall, including colourful character Keith Loads.
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A fantastic finish in the day’s feature race highlighted a splendid afternoon’s racing at Fakenham.

Robbed of its previous fixture by the weather earlier in the month, the course more than made up for the loss with 52 runners battling it out across the six-race card.

Jockey Sean Bowen with Minella Daddy in the winner's enclosure..trainer father Peter on the right.

Jockey Sean Bowen with Minella Daddy in the winner's enclosure..trainer father Peter on the right.

There were scenes of high jubilation in the winner’s enclosure after Beforeall ridden by top jockey Leighton Aspell just held on by a short head from Regal Flow to take the Wendling Chase over three miles for Upper Lambourn trainer Oliver Sherwood.

Chief amongst the celebrants was a member of the Beforeall Partnership, Keith Loads from Hindringham, near Fakenham, whose striking outfit could hardly fail to be noticed.

Commenting on his bright green suit decorated with individual playing cards, Mr Loads said: “I wore this because I had a good win recently and I’m also marking a special 60th birthday. I just love it if I can make people smile.”

Well known as a stand-up comedian on local circuits, Mr Loads was particularly enthused by this triumph at Fakenham as he has taken part in a number of charity rides around the track.

There was a surprise winner of the opening Taverham Hall Racing to School Hurdle over two miles when It’s Oscar at 10/1 landed the spoils.

Under a bold ride from Mark Quinlan, trainer James Evans’ nine year-old towed the field round over the first mile and then battled out the leadership with Lake Chapala, pulling away up the straight to dash home by a commanding nine lengths.

The Bowen family made the long round trip from Wales worthwhile by taking the Racing to School Inspiring Young Minds Hurdle over a testing three miles. Jockey Sean Bowen, riding for his father Peter, was always in the leading bunch on Minella Daddy and held off his only challenger from three out, Girly Girl, ridden by Bridget Andrews to romp home by six lengths.

The 13-runner Life is Good in Norfolk Maiden Hurdle over two miles went to Gwafa, smartly ridden by Richie McLernon for trainer Paul Webber.

The issue was in little doubt when the grey took the lead over the final half mile and stretched ahead by 15 lengths from runner-up Magic Dancer.

Favourite backers had to wait until the fifth race for a winner, the East Bilney Chase over two miles and five furlongs, when market leader Halo Moon at 11/10 demonstrated his superiority in the six-runner field.

Riding for trainer Neil Mulholland, jockey Noel Fehily held all the cards and eased ahead along the back straight to extend his lead at the line to 17 lengths over Midnight Charmer.

There was more of the same in the finale, the Longham Conditional Jockeys Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs, with favourite Hassadin under Harry Cobden overcoming Vent Nivernais by three lengths.

The next meeting at Fakenham is on Monday, February 8, first race due off at 1.20pm.