A bumper holiday crowd packed into Fakenham racecourse in fine weather for the track’s popular New Year’s Day meeting.
Torrential rain in the run-up to the event meant for heavy going with one hurdle dolled off throughout the afternoon as a precaution but the conditions were handled by both horses and riders with great skill.
The opening Daisy Mason Selling Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs developed into a tussle between top weight Ascendant and bottom weight Ulysses.
They led the field of six throughout but on turning into the home straight it was Ascendant, trained by Johnny Farrelly and given a patient ride by Patrick Cowley, who made the decisive move to push on and win by two lengths.
Little Windmill, ridden by Jack Andrews, may have been weak in the market but produced an excellent round of jumping to take the Fakenham Amateur Riders Chase over two miles and five furlongs.
Carrying top weight and reckoned not to like soft conditions, the eight-year-old tracked long-time leader Money For Nothing all the way, heading him at the last to score by two-and-a-half lengths.
Course favourite Artifice Sivola, who had previously won three times at Fakenham, did the trick again to take the North Norfolk Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs, scattering the field of six by a distance.
Jockey Maxime Tissier, riding for trainer Lucy Wadham, made it two wins out of two after his first success at the track at the previous meeting on December 19.
The Happy New Year Hurdle over three miles went to More Than Luck ridden by David England and trained by Olly Murphy. Favourite Minella Gathering, under Jack Sherwood, had every chance at the last but just went down by a neck in a thrilling finish.
Just two horses were entered for the Independent Racecourses Ltd Chase over two miles and five furlongs with the rivalry intense throughout.
Once again Olly Murphy produced a striking result as his Mullaghboy, ridden by Charlie Poste, triumphed over the odds-on favourite Norse Light.
Leading all the way the brave seven-year-old, who had fallen at Fakenham just two weeks previously, would not be denied to cross the line four-and-a-half lengths ahead.
In gathering gloom the final race of the afternoon, the Fakenham Racecourse Annual Members Hurdle over two miles, went to The Linksman, given a canny ride by Jonathan England.
The pairing took the lead from the off to press on from favourite Fresh New Dawn and build up a decisive margin up the home straight with the result never in doubt.
The next meeting at Fakenham is on Monday, January 22.