By Jim Harding
The fields may have been small but there was no shortage of drama at Fakenham’s second meeting of the month under soft going at the track.
Champion trainer Paul Nichols had targeted the feature race of the day, the Weatherbys Printing Beginners Chase over three miles, for his promising five year-old Vicente to make his debut over the bigger obstacles.
With only three runners entered, all went according to plan under stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies until three fences from home when the pairing crashed out.
This left the way open for Warden Hill, ridden by Brian Hughes to coast home untroubled by a distance from the only other finisher, Hazzaat, under Bridget Andrews.
All eyes were on The Omen, even money favourite, to take the opening seller over two miles and four furlongs under claiming jockey Alan Johns. Despite leading at the final hurdle he was just caught on the line by the fast-finishing Ruby Valentine under a determined drive from Liam Treadwell.
The same pairing had won the equivalent race last year, despite which there was no bid for the mare at auction.
Southway Star justified her favouritism to take the At The Races Chase over three miles, completing a hat-trick of wins in November.
There were no ill effects from her victory at Plumpton just two days earlier and with a fine round of jumping in the hands of Bridget Andrews, she got home decisively by 15 lengths.
Co-favourite Grimley Girl took the Independent Racecourses Ltd Novices Hurdle over two miles in style. There were plenty in with chances but from two out jockey James Davies urged his mare into the lead and she responded to keep the field at bay and win by three and a half lengths.
The At The Races Mares Hurdle over three miles was impressively won by favourite Barton Heather under a patient ride from Michael Byrne.
Belle de Fonteney ridden by Peter Carberry dashed into a commanding lead but was unable to sustain it over the final half mile as Barton Heather caught and then passed her. Unchallenged up the home straight, the winning margin was a comfortable 13 lengths.
Course specialist Full Ov Beans won his fifth race at the track to take the Collect Totepool Winnings at BetFred Shops Conditional Jockeys Chase over two miles.
Leading from the start under Mikey Hamill the gutsy 10 year-old would not be denied and was cheered home up the straight just ahead of Larteta to send his many supporters home happy.
The next meeting at Fakenham is on December 21, first race at 1pm.