Skelton brothers outshine Olympic ace Pendleton with Fakenham double

Fakenham Races, action from the 3.40 Snelling Group Novices Handicap Hurdle ANL-160220-092743009
Fakenham Races, action from the 3.40 Snelling Group Novices Handicap Hurdle ANL-160220-092743009
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Olympic star Victoria Pendleton failed in her bid to win her first steeplechase in front of the packed main stands at Fakenham Racecourse on Friday.

The cycling double gold medallist was on the Paul Nichols-trained Pacha Du Polder which went off at odds-on favourite in the Betfair Switching Saddles ‘Grassroots’ Fox Hunters Chase over three miles.

Fakenham Races, Victoria Pendleton taking part in the Betfair Switching Saddles Grassroots Fox Hunters Chase at 4.10 
having her picture taken with fans ANL-160220-091659009

Fakenham Races, Victoria Pendleton taking part in the Betfair Switching Saddles Grassroots Fox Hunters Chase at 4.10 having her picture taken with fans ANL-160220-091659009

But the 35-year-old fell with just a mile completed.

Despite the setback to her plans to ride at the Cheltenham Festival next month, she followed this with a clear round in a Suffolk point-to-point race on Sunday.

However there were reports on Sunday night that Pendleton is ready to seriously consider delaying her Festival adventure until next year, when she added: “If it’s not meant to be this year then it’s not meant to be.”

Trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry had two wins on the seven-race card. They walked away with the opening Andy Don Memorial Chase over two miles and five furlongs, saddling the impressive Willow’s Saviour against just one other rival, Larteta. At prohibitive odds of 1/20, the Skelton star led from first to last and was never in trouble.

Fakenham Races a paked grandstand ANL-160220-092237009

Fakenham Races a paked grandstand ANL-160220-092237009

The double came with a blistering ride on Work In Progress to take the EBF Stallions ‘National Hunt’ Novices Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs. In front from the start the 6 year-old set a relentless gallop to get home from McKenzie’s Friend by 31 lengths.

The Richard Farquar Walking Courses two-mile Selling Hurdle had more than its share of drama with three horses coming to grief at the third flight down the back straight. Razzle Dazzle ‘Em under Brendan Powell went straight into the lead and stayed there, its first win in 14 previous attempts for trainer Shaun Harris.

There was no bid for the winner at auction.

In a tight finish to the Tim Barclay Memorial Chase over two miles and five furlongs, Gamain ridden by Kielan Woods overhauled a plucky ride by Lizzie Kelly on The Italian Yob to cross the line half a length to the good. Favourite Roycano comfortably dominated the Snelling Group Novices Hurdle over three miles for a first win under rules. Just So Cool gave him a run for his money but when Harry Bannister said go up the home straight he kicked on to win by 14 lengths.

The afternoon climaxed for Harry Skelton when he completed an outstanding treble with a one-length victory on the Lucy Wadham-trained Potters Lady Jane in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares Flat over two miles.

Always in contention in the leading bunch the four year-old skipped to the front at the sharp end to win by a length from favourite Postbridge.

The next meeting at Fakenham is on Friday, March 18, coinciding with Cheltenham Gold Cup day. Racegoers will be able to see all the action on the big screen in the centre of the course with some bookmakers taking bets on both meetings.