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Punters set for return to track at festive fixture in Fakenham

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Punters will be back on course at Fakenham for the first time this season when the track stages its popular pre-Christmas fixture on Sunday.

The course was forced to stage its first three fixtures of the 2020-21 campaign behind closed doors because of the coronavirus crisis.

But, with no change expected to Norfolk’s Tier 2 status and restrictions on crowd numbers in place, attendance will be limited to Annual Members only. Public ticket sales remain suspended.

Action from the St.Andrews Day Race Meeting at Fakenham Racecourse
Action from the St.Andrews Day Race Meeting at Fakenham Racecourse

A six-race card is scheduled, with the action getting underway at 12.45pm with a Mares’ Maiden Hurdle over two miles.

That race, together with the Mares’ Handicap Chase over two miles five furlongs at 2.50pm, are both encouraging racing fans to vote for star flat jockey Hollie Doyle in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award later that evening.

Doyle, who has enjoyed a stellar year in 2020, is one of six shortlisted for the award alongside England fast bowler Stuart Broad, WBC heavyweight boxing world champion Tyson Fury, Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, Liverpool’s Premier League-winning captain Jordan Henderson and snooker’s world champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The feature race of the day is the Sky Sports Racing Handicap Chase at 1.45pm, a Class 3 contest over two miles five furlongs, which offers total prize money of £14,000.

Although final declarations are due later today, current entries include the Emma Lavelle-trained Jubilympics who would be looking to follow up his course and distance win at the season opening meeting in October.

Another former course winner, Perfect Moment, is engaged in the British Racing School Handicap Hurdle, over nearly three miles, at 1.15pm.

Leading trainers Nicky Henderson, David Pipe and Jonjo O’Neill are among the handlers represented among the total of 111 entries across the card at the five-day stage.

One of O’Neill’s runners, Pasley, is set to carry top weight, as well as the colours of top owner J.P. McManus in the Fakenham Skips Supporting Each and RBL Handicap Hurdle at 2.20pm.

And another of racing’s leading ladies, Bryony Frost, is currently expected to team up with Onemorefortheroad for trainer Neil King in the closing Christmas Holidays Maiden Hurdle at 3.20pm.

Following Sunday’s fixture, the New Year meeting will take place on Monday, January 4, instead of New Year’s Day.

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