McCoy suffers mixed Fakenham fortunes
Champion jockey Tony McCoy had to play second fiddle to Leighton Aspell on his New Year reappearance at Fakenham.
The recently-crowned BBC Sports Personality of 2010 looked to have an impressive book of rides at the north Norfolk circuit but had to settle for a solitary success in the feature tote Novices' Chase aboard Mamlock. Aspell notched a double at the Irishman's expense with McCoy also finishing second on Nicky Henderson's Lady Hight.
Aspell's Camden (7/1) outlasted McCoy's odds on shot Silicium in the January Maiden Hurdle. Oliver Sherwood's five-year-old ranged alongside McCoy who had no answer in the testing conditions.
'He was very game,' said Aspell. 'A day like today is not always about the best horse winning, but the toughest horse, and he proved that I think. The ground can be tricky here but there is no doubt about it with all the rain it has become very testing.
'We hope he is an improving sort because he disappointed us last time for some reason. He won his bumper and we really like him so I guess all we can do is put that bad run behind him and he has done that here. The way he was plugging on at the end and if you look at his point-to-point record there is no doubt he will get further as well.'
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Aspell's Sweet Seville (16/1) proved too strong again in a driving duel to the delayed East Dereham Handicap Hurdle finale after No More Whispers pilot Adam Wedge was withdrawn at the start after being kicked by Owls FC. McCoy's Loco Grande (7/4 favourite) made all but had no response after popping the last level.
McCoy's personal highlight came when Mamlock (6/5) eased to victory in the feature. David Pipe's highly-rated novice chaser confirmed his growing reputation on his chasing debut after impressing on the flat last season – notably with a Chester Cup victory.
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'It was a good performance because three-runner races are always tricky races, especially around Fakenham, but he jumped well, bar one mistake,' said Devon-based handler Pipe. 'The ground was softer than ideal but it was a good performance. There are no plans at the moment, but he usually takes his races well so he'll probably be out again sooner rather than later. He's probably a two to two-and-a-half-miler really.'
All For Free (7/2) followed up his recent New Year's Day outing at Fakenham by going one better in the National Hunt Novices' Hurdle. Milton Harris' charge wore down McCoy on Lady Hight who was bidding to continue Nicky Henderson's success in this latest renewal.
'Initially he was a little weak so we had to put him away and give him a chance to strengthen up which he has done to be fair,' said winning jockey, Warren Marston. 'At home he has been riding like a different horse and Milton felt he would win today. The ground is as soft as I have known it but I went out wider in search of the better ground. He was here before and put in a good run that day and he has come on again and I feel he could even get a further trip.'
Neil King and claimer Alex Merriam teamed up for a double with Ray Mond (11/2) following up Evella's (14/1) unexpected success in the opener.
Evella had been pulled up in three previous chases this season but seemed to love the soft going prior to an official change in the ground conditions after the second race. King's ultra-consistent Ray Mond finished last season winning five races on the reel in handicap company and has started in similar vein with a ten length success over Mr Big (11/4) in the Sculthorpe Handicap Chase.