Champion trainer among the winners at Fakenham

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Champion trainer Paul Nichols sends few horses to Fakenham so the appearance of his Katgary in the Helhoughton Novices Chase attracted lots of attention on the six-race card.

Even so, the five-year-old, under Nick Schofield, went off second favourite to Nicky Henderson’s mount Hammersly Lake.

These two kept company for the first mile of the two-mile-and-five-furlong race when a mistake along the back straight deposited Hammersly Lake’s jockey Peter Carberry on the deck.

Taking full advantage, Katgary saw off his three remaining rivals to get home by a comfortable seven lengths.

The return of racing after the five-month summer break, during which smart new medical and weighing room facilities had been built, drew a substantial crowd to the track.

The opening Dereham Conditional Jockeys Selling Hurdle over two miles featured course favourite Full Ov Beans who has won no less than six times at Fakenham.

There was to be no more glory for the 11-year-old and trainer Michael Gates announced his retirement after the race which was won in style by Maid of Tuscany from favourite Nebula Storm.

Jockey Shane Quinlan celebrated his first win for trainer Neil Mulholland since joining his yard a few weeks earlier.

Two horses fought out an exciting finish to the Rosalie Monbiot 80th Birthday Celebration Novices Hurdle over two-miles-and-four furlongs.

In the end it was Wings Attract, under a strong drive from Tom Messenger, who just got the better of long-time rival Romulus Du Donjon, the only ride of the afternoon for Daryl Jacob.

All five runners in the October Handicap Chase over three miles looked to be in with a chance in a keenly-fought encounter.

Coming to the last, Open Hearted, ridden by Harry Skelton for his brother Dan, produced a fine turn of foot to dash home by three-quarters-of-- length from odds on favourite Knock House under Brian Hughes.

A patient ride by Jack Quinlan on Gin and Tonic saw the pairing home by one-and-a-half lengths in the Fakenham Handicap Hurdle over two miles.

The more fancied Changing The Guard and Hawdyerwheesht took each other on in the first mile and put paid to their chances in the process.

Gin and Tonic had plenty left up the final straight, leaving favourite Istimraar in his wake.

The closest finish of the day was saved for the last in the Norfolk Novices Hurdle, also over two miles.

On paper it looked a shoe-in for heavily odds-on favourite Francis of Assisi, ridden by Aidan Coleman with just two other horses in contention.

But second favourite Ch’Tibello, making its British debut with Harry Skelton on board, almost spoilt the party, defeated by no more than a neck on the line.

The next meeting at Fakenham is on Wednesday October 28 , first race due off at 1.30pm.