Cobden and Nicholls at the double as Fakenham get their season off to a flying start
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Man of the moment Harry Cobden followed up a treble at Wincanton 24 hours earlier by landing two top prizes on Fakenham's opening day of the National Hunt season.
Cobden, riding for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, partnered the Trevor Hemmings-owned Touch Kick to take the £16,500 Sky Sports Racing Chase over three miles.
The 11/4 chance produced a fine display of jumping to win by seven lengths.
"He is really progressive. He has always been a bit keen, but today he relaxed, his breathing was better and he took it all in. I think he could go on to greater things," said Cobden.
An eventful two-mile novice hurdle 35 minutes earlier went to Nicholls and Cobden with Red Force One, returned at 13/8.
Favourite Notre Pari looked to be cruising under Barry Geraghty, but a shuddering error three out put him out of contention and it was left for Red Force One to notch his first hurdling victory.
Redzor, under a great ride from Bridget Andrews, took the Sky Sports Racing Novice Chase after a superb display of jumping. The 6/1 chance in the five-runner field, trained by Dan Skelton, led with two circuits to go and failed to see another rival, storming home by 21 lengths.
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"He jumped so well that I decided to press on. I knew it was a bit sticky out there and thought the novices behind me might struggle, so pushed on and he won easily," said Andrews.
Ten-year-old gelding Trapper Peak made it four wins on the trot when landing the two-and-a-half mile handicap hurdle under Billy Garritty for trainer Justin Landy. Always handy, the 7/4 favourite burst through before the final flight and comfortably held Haafapiece to add to recent successes at Sedgefield, Catterick and Southwell.
"This horse is an absolute diamond. My girlfriend rides him out every day and she knows when to get him to do a little more," said Landy.
The finish to the season's opener was the best of the day, with Skeaping edging out favourite Ballyellis.
Ballyellis took it up three out but Skeaping, returned at 4/1 under Luca Morgan for Phil Middleton, nosed in front before the final flight and held on.
Cobden and Nicholls were thwarted in their hat-trick bid in the finale when Dogon could only finish third behind runaway winner The Wolf, under Adrian Heskin for Olly Murphy, returned at 4/7.