New Year’s Day delight for Gethings at Fakenham
- Credit: Archant
Six-year-old mare Ceara Be took the New Year's Day honours at Fakenham when claiming her first hurdles success to land the feature handicap, worth almost £7,000 to the winner.
Trained by Alex Hales, Ceara Be, ridden by Ciaran Gethings, stormed home at 5/1 to improve on her last-time second place at Leicester.
'Today was the first time I had sat on her. I had an easy lead into the race and thought I may have hit the front too soon. But she flew the second last and jumped the last well and we were home,' said Gethings.
Wind Place And Sho was second with top weight Amanto third in a contest reduced to five when All My Love crashed out in front of the packed stands with a circuit to go.
There was a major upset in the opening selling hurdle when Paul Nicholls' Blu Cavalier, sent off at a prohibitive 2/11, was beaten by Olly Murphy's Cliffside Park. Under a fine ride by Lewis Stones, Cliffside Park, a winner at Fakenham in October 2017, got up before the final two flights to win at 11/1 in an exciting three-horse contest.
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Murphy, always in form at Fakenham, completed a double when Craigmor, the 11/10 favourite, won the novice chase under David England, who took it up with a circuit to go and held off Volt Face.
The amateur riders' handicap chase went the way of 11/4 joint favourite Sideways who, under Tommie O'Brien, recorded his first victory under rules.
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Vaxalco set a decent pace but Sideways, trained in south Wales by Christian Williams, took over two out and was always in control, winning by five lengths with bottom weight Stonebridge Legend running on for second.
The trainer made the long journey worthwhile when his Strictlyadancer landed the handicap hurdle to complete a quick double for himself and jockey England. The gelding had been disappointing on handicap debut but enjoyed the three-mile trip, winning at 9/2.
'He fell in a point-to-point and that knocked him back. But today he has rewarded our patience,' said Gareth Moores, representing the trainer.
The finale saw jockey Gethings complete a double when he got Havana Hermano home by a nose for Stuart Edmunds.