Big names saddle up as Fakenham’s season starts

Top jockeys Tony McCoy, Richard Johnson and Barry Geraghty all have good chances of winners as Fakenham stages its first meeting of the season this afternoon with an exciting seven race card.

The first race is off at 2pm – which coincides with the racecourse being awarded the prestigious Gold Standard from the Racehorse Owners' Association.

Champion jockey McCoy, who brought up his century for the season at Ludlow yesterday, goes for a double from his two rides on Carribs Leap (3.10) and Catspan (5.25) – both trained by Charlie Egerton.

Carribs Leap runs in the John Ward Lifetime In Racing Novices' Hurdle (3.10), which has attracted some useful novices. This gelding was an impressive winner in at bumper at Ludow in March and provided he has schooled well will be difficult to beat on his hurdling debut. Frontier Spirit and Morcambe also look to have a good chance.

Catspan runs in the finale, the Fakenham Intermediate Open NH Flat Race (5.25).

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This four-year-old gelding shaped up with a great of promise when finishing third on his racecourse debut at Uttoxeter in March and looks capable of breaking his duck in this contest. Ceilidh Royal could well be his main threat.

Johnson, who won the David Turner Trophy for being the leading jockey at Fakenham last season with eight wins, could well have further success when he rides Sean Og in the 1824 Handicap Chase (4.55). This gelding was an easy winner for his new stable when scoring by 12 lengths at Plumpton earlier in the week and should take all the beating on this quick reappearance.

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Geraghty looks to maintain his excellent strike-rate at Fakenham when partnering Anquetta for his governor Nicky Henderson in the Northern Norfolk Novices' Chase (3.45).

This gelding looks to have the making of a jumper after some promising runs over hurdles and could well score on his chasing debut. Circus Of Dreams could be the main protagonist in this close contest.

Tapes go up at 2pm with the Prince Of Wales Stand Conditional Jockeys' Selling Handicap Hurdle, in which Adage is given the nod. This Jim Best-trained mare was a decent third on her debut for her new stable at Plumpton last month and, considering that was her first run for 10 months, she will surely be fitter for today's contest. We`re Delighted looks the main danger.

Trainer Peter Bowen looks to have the key to the ROA Gold Standard Award For Fakenham Handicap Chase (2.35) with No Panic. This gelding has been a model of consistency over fences, as shown when winning at Cartmel last month, and is taken to win again, despite pulling-up on his last start. Of the rest the Lucy Wadham-trained Emperor Concerto has to be respected.

The Lifetime In Racing Handicap Hurdle (4.20) looks another wide-open contest in which it might be worth taking a chance on Renege The Joker. Trained at Snetterton by Sean Regan, this lightly raced gelding was placed twice over course and distance last season and could well come with a late surge and land a blow for the Norfolk trainer.

• Drivers travelling to the course via the main Swaffham to Fakenham Road (A1065) should allow an extra 30-40 minutes because of road works at South Raynham. Drivers will have to follow the diversions on to the B1145.

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