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Waterlogging claims Fakenham card

Today’s meeting at Fakenham has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

The Norfolk venue was due to host a seven-race jumps card, but after 13 millimetres of rain overnight, areas of the track are waterlogged.

Clerk of the course David Hunter said: “We had 13mm by the time I arrived at 5.30am, I walked the course in the dark and there were already some areas of pooling water and we have had further rain since. We are unfortunately just on the cusp of the storm.

“I just felt it could be dangerous to race – there are some areas of false ground and when conditions are like this, I’d be concerned about emergency vehicles being able to access all areas of the track.

“There is also a pond in the middle of the course that has risen substantially and that could flood parts of the track, so we had no choice but to abandon.”

Wednesday’s meeting at Chepstow is subject to a precautionary inspection on raceday morning due to the threat of rain.

The track tweeted: “We have a precautionary inspection at 7.30am tomorrow to assess prospects for our seven-race card due to start at 1.05pm. The track is raceable at the moment (heavy, soft in places) and can take more rain, it just depends how much we get.”

Unfortunately the meeting at Leicester next Tuesday has already been abandoned due to waterlogging.

It is unusual for a fixture to be called off at more than 72 hours notice, but with the support of a BHA course inspector the decision was ratified.

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.”

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 attheraces.com 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.

Littmoden announces move to France

Newmarket trainer Nick Littmoden has announced he will relocate to France in the spring.

Littmoden, who has held a licence since 1994 except for a couple of years when he took a break, is moving to Vichy.

He made the decision public after saddling Captain Speaking to victory in a handicap chase at Fakenham on Monday.

“We’re going to France in early spring. We’ll probably be there for March we hope,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“We decided only a few weeks ago. We live in Norfolk but we put that on the market and sold it in September, and we’ve been chewing over options since.

“Given the number of horses and the type I have and for reasons of the family as well, we’ve all come to the conclusion we decided it would be the right move for us.”

Dual-purpose trainer Littmoden had the majority of his highest-profile wins on the Flat – including with the prolific and durable sprinter Smokin Beau.

“I’ve really enjoyed it all the way,” he said.

“We were predominantly Flat to start with –  I took a couple of years out and moved up here, and we really love Norfolk.

“We’ve had a fantastic time up here, and then I went back to it three years ago on a small scale – renting 18 boxes in Newmarket, which has by and large been full. We’re 50-50 nowadays, and we do enjoy the jumpers.

“The yard in Vichy in mid France is well equipped with an equine swimming pool and a lovely horse-walker gallop and 30 acres. We’re really looking forward to it.

“Prize money is a major part in wanting to go.”

Littmoden has trained more than 600 winners.

Trump secures Fakenham victory

Getaway Trump highlighted a topical double at Fakenham on Tuesday.

Two weeks on from the US election, in which Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner over Republican Donald Trump, the Paul Nicholls-trained Getaway Trump and Olly Murphy’s Washington provided political watchers with a 14-1 double at the Norfolk venue.

Getaway Trump (5-2) was bouncing back from a lacklustre effort at Cheltenham as he survived a mistake at the second last fence to run out a half-length winner of the Raynham Novices’ Chase under Harry Cobden.

The winning rider told Sky Sports Racing: “It was hard work, he was a little bit slow over a few fences, and down to two out, he half galloped into it – we sort of had a difference of opinion. I saw a nice stride and he wanted to gallop through it, but he’s got it done and won quite nicely in the end.

“I think he’s going the right way. He’s come back from a disappointing run at Cheltenham, two-five is obviously his trip as they go a little bit slower and he jumps better. It’s a step in the right direction.”

While Getaway Trump prevailed by a narrow margin, Washington (100-30) recorded a 19-length verdict in the closing Racing Partnership “Newcomers” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Partnered by Aidan Coleman, the four-year-old travelled well throughout and was left in front when True Glory pulled up seven furlongs from home, striding on purposefully to take the prize.

McCain impressed as Gaelik claims Fakenham glory

Donald McCain and owner Tim Leslie have enjoyed plenty of big-race success together and Gaelik Coast appears another smart prospect for the pair judged on his debut victory over fences at Fakenham.

Having signed off last season with a brace of novice hurdle wins at Doncaster and Bangor, the six-year-old gelding hit the ground running on his chasing bow in the Greene King IPA Novices’ Chase.

As favourite Mick Pastor crashed out at the last when mounting his challenge, the 5-1 shot demonstrated the best of his battling abilities to overhaul long-time leader Timetochill close to the line before going on to score by a head.

McCain, speaking away from the track, said: “We had him in at Carlisle, but the ground had gone heavy up there. Fakenham isn’t a place I would normally go to, but we wanted to give him a nice education over fences on nice ground.

“He is a nice horse that has got a great attitude and will get a bit further as well. The win was a bonus and the best thing to take out of today was his jumping, which was really good. He is a young horse with a future.

“His first run over hurdles was disappointing, but he wasn’t himself, then he won his next two, but he always looked like he was going to jump a fence.

“I’m never one to rush them, but we will be governed by the novice chase system, however, there are no grand plans at this stage.”

Chris Gordon can now boast both riding and training a winner at the Norfolk track after Twominutes Turkish (100-30) secured a front-running 15-length success in the Racing To School, “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle.

The Winchester handler said: “That was my first winner as a trainer here, though I rode a mare called Nethertara to victory at the track 22 years ago in a men’s open point-to-point.

“I spoke to Josh (Moore) this morning and we said to pop him off in front and let him lob along as he jumps very well and the plan has worked well.

“He came to me as an unbroken three-year-old and this is great for the lads that own him, as they have let me be easy on him and their patience has been rewarded.”

A switch back to chasing is on the cards for Glimpse Of Gold, who claimed his second success since joining Sarah Humphrey when landing the Greene King IPA Handicap Hurdle by a length and three-quarters.

Humphrey said of the 9-2 winner: “He has run ever so well since we’ve had him and that was brilliant today as that was off a career high mark. He is just so tough and game.

“His confidence is sky high and it has just grown with every race. We will now go chasing with him. I’ve put him over fences and he jumps well, so he should be well handicapped.”

Harry Reed celebrated his second winner back since returning from a broken arm after steering the Neil Mulholland-trained Master Burbidge (10-1) to glory by a length in the Racing Partnership Selling Handicap Chase.

Reed said: “I broke my left arm at the start of August and had eight weeks off. I’ve still got the metal plates in, but the team at Oaksey House were a big help in getting me back.

“Me and Neil (Mulholland) have done well in the selling races here this season as we won the selling hurdle here at the last meeting, which was my first winner back from injury.

“Master Burbidge is probably not the best of battlers and I needed a good one at the last and luckily I got it.”

Coleman straight back to winning ways on comeback ride

Aidan Coleman had more than one reason to celebrate the victory of Here Comes Johnny at Fakenham on Friday.

Not only was it the Grade One-winning rider’s first success after returning from a fractured arm sustained in July, but it was also his inaugural triumph since being appointed stable jockey to winning trainer Olly Murphy earlier this week.

Having finished second on his stable debut in a bumper at Market Rasen, the 6-5 favourite had little trouble in going one better on his first start over hurdles, winning by 11 lengths in the Champions Day On Sky Sports Racing “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle.

Coleman said: “It is great way to start everything really, as it is my first ride back in three months.

“I got a very good first ride. The horse took no riding at all. He jumped super and he was very straightforward. It is a great way to start the new partnership with Olly.”

Coleman was quick to praise those who enabled him to return to action so quickly.

“Thanks to everybody at Oaksey House and Geoff Graham (specialist) and Jerry Hill (British Horseracing Authority chief medical adviser),” he said.

“My recovery wouldn’t have been as straightforward if it wasn’t for their help, as it was quite a nasty injury. The fact I’m back riding winners so soon is a testament to them, not me.”

Grade Two-winning hurdler Wolf Of Windlesham (11-1) put in a near-foot perfect round of jumping to make his debut over fences a triumphant one in the Breeders’ Cup On Sky Sports Racing Novices’ Chase.

Trainer Stuart Edmunds said: “He had good form as a juvenile hurdler and he won a Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham. He still retains plenty of zest and has schooled very well over fences.

“It was lovely to see the old boy back, but he had run well on the Flat. I don’t have clue what to do know as I didn’t expect to win this!”

Jonjo O’Neill saw his plan for Carys’ Commodity (4-1) come together in perfect fashion after the five-year-old claimed the Champions Day Form Study On attheraces.com/Ascot Handicap Hurdle by 14 lengths.

Jonjo O’Neill junior was on board and said: “We thought he was a galloper and he probably is at this sort of trip (two and a half miles). He travelled well the last day over three-miles-one at Cartmel, but he just ran out of steam.

“We had planned this race out the day after Cartmel so it has been on the agenda for a while and it was good planning by the team.”

Sir Jack Yeats (4-1) made it two wins from three starts at the Norfolk track to complete a double for jockey James Bowen when taking full advantage of the final-fence fall of leader Fixed Rate to land the Download The At The Races App Handicap Chase by a neck.

Richard Spencer said of his nine-year-old: “We were a lucky winner and I think if the other horse had stood up we would have been a decent second.

“He is a bit quirky, but the turning track here is to his likely. If he is OK he might go to Cheltenham next week for an amateurs’ race.”

Jubilympics (9-4) got the ball rolling for the former champion conditional jockey when getting the better of odds-on favourite Bit On The Side in the Sky Sports Racing Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Bowen said of the Emma Lavelle-trained winner: “She jumped really well, but she is not the biggest. I had one go at her (Bit On The Side) at the last and she stuck on all the way.”