Mendip Express gunning for glory in Fakenham feature
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A classy field of six contest the £15,000 feature chase on a competitive six-race card at Fakenham on Thursday afternoon.
The 3.10pm contest sees 13-year-old Mendip Express favourite for trainer Philip Hobbs after winning at Sandown in December. David Maxwell takes the mount in a handicap in which all six hold chances.
Sideways, a course winner on New Year's Day, followed up at Sedgefield and goes for the hat-trick for Christian Williams while Gettysburg Address starts his third chase for Richard Newland, having been runner-up at Bangor last time.
Former Fakenham winners Enjoy Responsibly for Oliver Sherwood and Holbrook Park for Nick King go, as does Lucy Wadham's Le Reve, the £31,000 Betfred Masters Chase winner at Sandown three years ago.
The action starts at 12.55pm when eight go in the maiden hurdle, headed by Red Royalist under Ciaran Gethings for Stuart Edmunds. Gethings had a double at the last Fakenham meeting and rides a gelding second on the flat at Kempton recently.
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Grand Inquisitor for Ian Williams and Some Boy McCoy, fourth over course and distance on New Year's Day for Olly Murphy, rate dangers.
The 1.25pm chase sees 15-year-old That's The Deal, trained by John Cornwall, make a 101st career start and his 98th chase start, having won nine, the last in 2017.
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Two horses that finished behind Sideways at the last meeting take their chance, grey gelding Vaxalco for King, who was third, now better off at the weights, and runner-up Stonebrigg Legend, Sarah Humphrey's mare under Sean Bowen.
Murphy has Bubbles Of Gold in the 2pm novice hurdle, a runner-up on hurdles debut at Newcastle, although favourite is Mister Tickle, a point winner in Ireland before joining Martin Smith's yard.
Murphy has three in the day's biggest field of nine in the 2.35pm handicap hurdle, his best chance Vocal Heir, the mare having her first run since joining the stable from Stephen Hanlon in Ireland.
Fakenham regular Gin And Tonic, trained by Michael Wigham, is out for the first time since June, having won three times in 14 course starts.
The closing 3.45pm hurdle sees Murphy hold a favourite's chance with Wood Pigeon, who at the corresponding meeting last year, won over the chase fences, but now reverts to hurdles.
There is a precautionary 7am inspection planned due to the expected overnight frost.
Selections: 12.55pm Red Royalilst, 1.25pm Vaxalco, 2pm Mister Tickle, 2.35pm Dream Baie, 3.10pm Mendip Express, 3.45pm Wood Pigeon.