Fakenham Racecourse bursting at the seams for traditional New Year’s Day meeting
Fakenham racecourse was bursting at the seams for its traditional New Year’s Day meeting with a holiday crowd of thousands packed into the course.
A seven-race card on good going in cold but dry weather made for a perfect sporting afternoon to kick off the new decade.
The opening Happy New Year Selling Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs was won by top weight Wells De Lune, ridden from the front by claiming jockey Peter Bryan for trainer Peter Bowen.
Fancied by the experts but friendless in the market the pairing were never headed and held on well up the final straight ahead of the fast-finishing favourite, Airton.
At auction the bidding was keen with Wells De Lune finally bought for £14,000.
The Amateur Riders Chase over the marathon distance of three miles and five furlongs was a gruelling affair which went to Clondaw Bisto, under Zac Baker, giving the nine-year-old its first win of the season.
In midfield for much of the race and trailing Velvet Cognac round the final turn, the Suzy Smith-trained mount showed his best form to win in a tight finish.
Favourite Haafapiece was given a great ride by Jack Andrews in the Fakenham Racecourse Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs.
Trained at her Peterborough yard by Pam Sly, the seven-year-old was held up for much of the race, but once taking the lead from Sleep Easy up the straight was able to pull away by three lengths.
The Norfolk’s Finest Drinkers Hurdle over three miles was an open affair with the lead constantly changing hands.
Outsider Cougar Kid threatened in the final mile but a decisive move by Be My Sea, under Lee Edwards, got him home in just under a length from McCrackens Gate.
The Mares Chase of two miles and five furlongs was convincingly won by the oldest horse in the race, Bennys Girl aged 12 and ridden by Shane Quinlan.
They saw off favourite Stonebrigg Legend to scoot home by 15 lengths.
The same margin of victory but with more drama decided the Happy New Year Maiden Hurdle over two miles.
A nail-biting finish was on the cards at the last until Bran, under Ciaran Gethings, took a tumbling fall to provide Waterproof, ridden by Brendan Powell, with an easy passage to the line.
It had not been a great day for favourite backers but the last Maiden Hurdle, also over two miles, brought out the best in Imperil, ridden by Joshua Moore, for Newmarket trainer Nick Littmodem.
He was cheered all the way up the final straight for a convincing 10 length victory.
The next meeting at Fakenham is on Thursday, January 23.
Read moreOther Sport
More by this authorGreg Plummer