A big half-term holiday crowd welcomed racing back to Fakenham after the track had lost its past two January meetings to frost.
Surprise results were the order of the day with no favourites getting home in any of the seven races on the card.
The major upset was provided by Bonnet’s Vino ridden by Gina Andrews in the Novices Chase over two miles and five furlongs.
This was reckoned to be a duel between leading trainers Paul Nichols and Nicky Henderson who had sent out Mr Mix and Omessa Has to battle each other against a couple of outsiders.
The race went according to script for two miles but coming to the second last, Mr Mix under Sam Twiston-Davies fell heavily and disturbed the run of Omessa Has under Daryl Jacob.
Bonnet’s Vino, who had been tracking the pair, took full advantage and was cheered all the way to the line up the home straight to win at tasty odds of 22-1.
Another jockey with plenty to smile about was Harry Skelton. He rode the first and last winners of the afternoon for trainers Caroline Bailey and his brother Dan Skelton.
His intentions were clear from the off in the Racing to School Riders Day Selling Hurdle over two miles when he pushed his mount Edward Elgar straight into the lead. The pairing stayed in front throughout with favourite Akula battling to mount a challenge but failing in the end by two lengths. There was no bid for the winner at auction.
Things were tighter in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares Flat race, also over two miles, with Skelton having to work much harder.
Whatzdjazz, a newcomer to his brother’s yard, was always well-placed but was handed victory when favourite Molly Childers, ridden by Ciaran Gethings, drifted to her right over the final hundred yards. Whatzdjazz won by a length.
A bold ride from Tom Scudamore on The Mighty Don landed them the Fakenham EBF Novices Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs by a comfortable 10 lengths. The pairing took charge from three out to win easily for trainer Nick Gifford.
The second surprise winner of the meeting popped up in the Tim Barclay Memorial Chase when 16-1 shot Rear Admiral outstayed his more fancied rivals.
Given a patient ride by Jake Greenall the 11 year-old took up the running from two out and was pushed on to win by six lengths from Saffron Wells.
There was a similar story in the Novices Hurdle over three miles won by Improved under claiming jockey Thomas Dowson. Finally living up to his name the 7 year-old landed only the second win of his career at odds of 10-1, holding off Popely’s Gull on the run in by two lengths.
Carlton Ryan ridden by William Easterby got lucky in landing the William Bulwer Long Memorial Hunters Chase when his chance seemed to have gone.
In third place at the last a fall by Mr Madeit opened the way home for him ahead of a weakening Warden Hill who finished second.
The placepot on the first six races reflected the day by amounting to a massive £4824.40.
The next meeting at Fakenham is on Friday, March 17 which coincides with Cheltenham Gold Cup day. Spectators can follow the action on the big screen in the centre of the course.