Aspell takes sweet success at Fakenham with Minstrels

Occasionally Yours (George Gorman) leading the first race of the day. Picture: Ian Burt

Occasionally Yours (George Gorman) leading the first race of the day. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Grand National winning jockey Leighton Aspell used all his experience and knowledge to help Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham take the feature event on Fakenham's New Year's Day card yesterday.

Aspell, successful in the world's most famous race in April on Dr Richard Newland's Pineau De Rea, got six-year-old Minstrels Gallery home to land the class three handicap hurdle worth almost £5,000 to the winner.

Aspell steered the eventual winner wide of the inside rail. He rode the gelding patiently in the rear of the six-strong field early on but delivered his mount to sail past favourite Aficionado two furlongs out to go on to win by 14 lengths.

'It's very heavy on the rail. The ground's very dead there so I kept him out a bit wide. He's done it really well,' said Aspell.

Ironically Aficionado, sent off 9/4 market leader, was trained by Newland, responsible for Aspell's proudest winner eight months ago.

However it was not all gloom for Worcestershire trainer Newland whose Murty's Delight took the opener, a selling hurdle.

Under Christopher Ward, the winner, returned at 2/1, took it up before the final circuit. However, around the final bend he was challenged by Montaff.

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At the final obstacle Murty's Delight continued to jump to the right and that certainly didn't help Montaff who could not land a blow in the run-in.

Teenager Harrison Beswick made a perfect start to the New Year with his first success, partnering Acertain Circus to win the maiden hurdle for Peterborough trainer Pam Sly.

Nineteen-year-old Beswick, claiming seven pounds, was having his 31st ride in public and produced the five-year-old perfectly to get up to win by more than two lengths from 13/8 favourite Benissimo and Baths Well.

The eventual second and third went off very quickly on the two-mile journey but Beswick was patient on the well-supported winner, returned at 5/2, and delivered the chestnut gelding to take the spoils.

The chase for amateur riders produced plenty of drama. Just four went to post with The Omen setting a decent pace out in front. However, after half of the two and a half mile trip, The Omen fell while Oxalido unseated 16-year-old Sam Coltherd.

That left Alright Benny in front and despite a couple of poor jumps, the 12-year-old held off the only other finisher, Icy Colt, to take the prize, returned at 5/2. It was a win for trainer Paul Henderson and for Gordon Treacy, only his second ever winner under rules.

The other chase, for novices, again featured just four runners and went to the 8/11 favourite Shinooki from the stables of Alex Hales.

Sitting Back, under Tabitha Worsley, went off in front and had all three rivals off the bridle with half a mile to go. But Kielan Woods, on Shinooki, kept working and eventually the eight-year-old got in front before the final fence and stayed on to win comfortably, going one better than when last running at the course in November.

The finale went to jockey Sam Jones who gave a great ride to the Fiona Kehoe trained Vision Du Coeur, returned the 10/1 winner ahead of Gilzean and Gamain.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, January 13, with a first race time of 1.05pm.

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