Five out of five gets top marks at Fakenham
Evan Williams' Five out of Five denied Gold-Cup winning trainer Nicky Henderson in yesterday's Fakenham feature.
The Welsh handler's seven-year-old (11/10) justified significant late market support in the betting ring to cruise to a 32-length win over Henderson's odds-on shot Zazamix (5/6 fav) in the At The Races Novices' Chase.
Felix de Giles' well-fancied mount struggled to cope with Paul Maloney's front-running display and effortless jumping. Zazamix blundered three fences out when attempting to take a closer order, but Maloney's rangy gelding looked perfectly suited to the trip after a difficult chasing debut over two miles.
'He jumps well so that is always a bonus around this place because they are big fences for the track,' said Maloney. 'I like coming here, it's not a bad little track. We just had to keep him out of trouble early on and we set a good gallop. I knew if he settled and jumped well then he would have a good chance because on his hurdling form he was going to be there or thereabouts with the Henderson horse.'
Amateur pilot Sam Waley-Cohen and owner/trainer father Robert failed to add to their impressive CVs this season when Otage De Brion (8/11 fav) flattered to deceive in the May Fox Hunters' Chase.
Assassino (5/2) ensured the trophy remained in the possession of the Turner family who have dominated the annual renewal. Stablemate Kadount was bidding for a three-timer but the veteran had to defer to his younger rival, who finished second to the useful Eleazar at Fakenham on Easter Monday.
Otage De Brion's connections enjoyed a memorable Gold Cup success with Long Run at Cheltenham and second place with Oscar Time in the Grand National, but Waley-Cohen's French-bred mount was unable to respond two furlongs out.
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'I think on this performance he most definitely improved from the run here over Easter,' said Ben Turner, grandson of the winning owner/trainer Joe. 'Obviously coming here we thought the Waley-Cohen horse would take all the beating. It's probably fair to say that ran a fair way below-par and ours was above par but we're very pleased and it's quite nice to win the trophy with the family connections to this race.
'Not every horse that comes to Fakenham likes the track, but he loves it. It's tight and flat and the ground here is perfect. They've done an absolutely superb job with the watering because it isn't easy this time of the year. We'll probably go point-to-point with him from here or another hunter chase somewhere. We'll see how he comes out of this race and go from there.'
Williams lost local bragging rights to Welsh rival Tim Vaughan in the Congratulations Prince William and Princess Catherine Novices' Hurdle. Stonethrower (5/4 fav) obliged after Silver Story and Argaum fell at the same piece of timber in the back straight to the four runner contest.
'It might have looked comprehensive,' said winning jockey Richard Killoran. 'But he was hanging quite badly the whole way round. He got to grips with it eventually and of course when the other two fell that left him out on his own. I wasn't actually aware the other two had come down but I think he would have had the beating of them. He fell the time before but I think he is one who is just learning what it's all about and he obviously has ability and a good turn of speed which is vital around a tight track like this one.'
Caroline Bailey is rapidly turning into a Fakenham specialist after saddling her fourth winner of the campaign when the well-backed Hardwick Wood (5/2 joint fav) – under a composed ride from Andrew Thornton – pocketed the totepool Handicap Chase.
The temperamental Hibiki (8/13 fav) scored in the Gresham's Prep School Racing to School seller before being bought back in by connections for 7,600 guineas.
Barry Brennan opened his Fakenham training account when Daraz Rose (5/1) survived a last flight calamity to claim the SIS Mares' Handicap hurdle finale.