Cool Roxy takes a bow after final Fakenham appearance
Mark PointerTears were shed over the retirement of a Fakenham legend yesterday.Cool Roxy, who has developed a huge and emotional following while logging up 11 wins on the north Norfolk course, was retired by owner and trainer Alan Blackmore after finishing a gallant third in the feature race - the Rex Carter Memorial Handicap Chase (3.Mark Pointer
Tears were shed over the retirement of a Fakenham legend yesterday.
Cool Roxy, who has developed a huge and emotional following while logging up 11 wins on the north Norfolk course, was retired by owner and trainer Alan Blackmore after finishing a gallant third in the feature race - the Rex Carter Memorial Handicap Chase (3.25).
Roxy, as ever, had looked a picture in the paddock thanks to Emily Crossman - duly wining the best turned-out horse award.
But despite being well fancied in the market, the 13-year-old gelding could not go the pace with younger rivals Quarrymount and Dead Or Alive, who shared the lead throughout.
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Coming around the home turn, Roxy still had seven lengths to make up on the leading pair and despite staying on gamely after the last he could not bridge the gap and had to settle for third spot behind Dead Or Alive - who collared Quarrymount on the run-in to win by two and quarter lengths.
But few among the 5,000 crowd basking in the sunshine for Fakenham's final National Hunt fixture of the season realised they were watching Roxy for the last time.
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The news came following the race, when clerk of the course David Hunter announced that Roxy was fittingly stepping down at his spiritual home.
Roxy was then paraded around the paddock for one last time to the applause of his adoring fans, who knew this old charger had nothing to prove to them.
He had been a credit to the sport of National Hunt racing and given them so much pleasure over the years with his 'never say die' attitude.
An emotional Blackmore said: "We knew it had to come, but we are so pleased and it is so fitting that he should run his race here at Fakenham.
"He loves coming here, we love coming here, the crowd have been so supportive and affectionate towards the horse over the years. He's not a big horse, but he's got a big heart and it was not fair to abuse him and keep racing him.
"He is such good natured horse and well behaved. We have been so privileged to have this horse."
Dead Or Alive was ridden by Richard Johnson, taking his tally to seven winners at Fakenham this season.
He was duly crowned as the leading Fakenham jockey for 2009/2010 and received the David Turner Trophy. Barry Geraghty also had seven winners but Johnson won through having more placed horses.
Tapes went up at 2.25, with the Champion's 60:60 Charity Challenge Novices Handicap Hurdle, and produced a thrilling finish in which 7/4 favourite Ashmolian got up on the run-in under a terrific ride by young Gemma Gracey-Davision to deny Play A Cord by a short-head.
Welsh trainer Evan Williams trained a double with Mutual Respect (3-1) in the Light Dragoons Handicap Chase (2.55) and Moon Melody (9-2) in the last, the Ray Atherton Memorial Lady Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle (5.10).
Odds-on favourite Moonstreaker made all the running to win in fine style by 18 lengths in the Betfair Novices Hurdle (4.00) - while Treaty Flyer looks a horse to follow over fences after making an impressive chasing debut when jumping for fun to land the Beginners Chase (4.35) by 15 lengths.