Nigel Dunger takes Pride in Fakenham success

Pride Of Pemberley gave trainer Nigel Dunger the perfect start to 2021 when becoming his first winner in 660 days following a facile success in the Happy New Year Handicap Hurdle at Fakenham.

The Pulborough handler, who combines training with working at a stud, watched on as the lightly-raced nine-year-old made it sixth-time lucky with victory in the two-and-a-half-mile contest.

Always moving well, the 12-1 shot barely had to get out of second gear before prevailing by four and a quarter lengths under Robbie Dunne from favourite At First Glance.

Dunger, who previously spent 18 years as travelling head lad to Amanda Perrett, said: “We got him out of Jamie Snowden’s and he had time off with a bit of a leg injury.

“He has been a bit of a challenge, but he is a nice improving horse that will make a nice chaser. I’ve only got two horse, this one and Hier Encore who ran earlier.

“I’ve had a permit on and off for years, but this is my first winner in nearly two years.”

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Zee Man secured a poignant success on his debut over fences in capturing the Wells Next The Sea Novices’ Handicap Chase by seven lengths.

The winner 100-30 was having his first start for Olly Murphy, who said: “Unfortunately Brian Vaughan, his previous owner, passed away between eight and 10 weeks ago.

“He was a real keen supporter of his racing and he was a local man who had just moved the horse to me and had shares in other horses as well.

“He will have been cheering the horse on from above.”

Bill Baxter saved the best until last when making his debut under rules a triumphant one by 13 lengths in the Norfolk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Trainer Warren Greatrex said of the 8-1 shot: “We got him privately for owner Adie Gibbons. He got him for his partner and he wanted a grey horse.

“He has done everything right at home and already jumps brilliantly.

“I was a bit worried this course might be too sharp for him. He has done that on ability alone.”

Kielan Woods ended his losing streak stretching back 33 days and 45 rides aboard the Phil Middleton-trained Sopat (5-1), who made all to claim the Thorpland Maiden Hurdle by two lengths.

The winning rider said: “She ran here the last day and was a little bit fresh as she had been off for two years. Today I just tried to keep things simple.

“I jumped off last over two and a half miles here and she pulled me to the front after the second hurdle and it was an absolute waste of a run.

“He (Middleton) told me today she was a certainty and I’d say he had a few quid on her.”

Love The Leader (4-1) showed he still has plenty of life left him in at the age of 13 after completing a double for trainer Johnny Farrelly when scoring by 14 lengths in the Visit Handicap Chase.

Winning rider Mitchell Bastyan said: “I was able to dictate the race and he travelled lovely throughout. I think we just bumped into one last time.

“He is a fantastic old horse that Johnny also owns. He is a real yard favourite.”

Krujers Girl got the ball rolling for Farrelly in the Racing Partnership Mares’ Handicap Chase, which the 5-1 chance claimed by five lengths.

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