It was a red letter day for young conditional jockey William Featherstone in tough conditions at Fakenham, riding the first double of his fledgling career.
The seven pound claimer kicked off by landing the Fakenham Racecourse Supports Racing to School Hurdle over two miles on Vent Nivernais when it seemed his chance had all but gone.
Top weight Astrum under a bold ride from Ronan Short looked to have the race at his mercy up the home straight but was gradually caught in the final furlong, the margin on the dash for the line no more than a neck. There was a similarly dramatic finish in the EPDS Racing Welfare BTO Series Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs.
Top jockey Noel Fehily on Lee Side Lady enjoyed a dream run but was just worn down from the last by Featherstone on Daliance who urged his mount to victory by a head. The return of Halo Moon to the track following his win at the last meeting was greeted with enthusiasm by favourite backers.
Despite carrying top weight under Fehily, the eight year-old was never in trouble throughout the Racing Welfare Chase over two miles and five furlongs, easing ahead from his only challenger, the veteran Fine Parchment, to take the feature race of the day by four and a half lengths.
Liam Treadwell made his only ride of the afternoon count when he drove home Prince of Steal by eight lengths in the Racing to School are Here Today ‘National Hunt’ Novices Hurdle over two miles.
The two market leaders, Dexcite and Hollies Pearl, battled it out up front early on but were unable to sustain their pace, giving trainer James Evans a quick double after Featherstone’s heroics in the opener.
Easiest win of the day went to Conor O’Farrell on Entry to Everywhere in the King’s Lynn Chase, also over two miles. With fancied runners It’s Oscar and On the Case falling and being pulled up, there was no challenger in sight as the winner scooted to a comfortable victory by 40 lengths.
With the wind still blowing a gale, the finale went to odds-on favourite Navanman ridden by Tom Scudamore. Trainer David Pipe has a 54 per cent strike rate at the track and his charge always held the cards despite the close attentions of Izbushka and Whispering Speed, to triumph in the Wells Next The Sea Hurdle over three miles by three and a half lengths.
The next meeting at Fakenham is on Friday, February 19, first race due off at 1.30pm.