King holds court for a Ladies Day winning hat-trick at Fakenham Racecourse
Mercers Court completed a hat-trick for trainer Neil King and jockey Trevor Whelan when taking the Fakenham Ladies Day Chase in front of a large crowd yesterday.
Approaching the final fence, favourite Bon Chic, with Harry Skelton hard at work, looked a threat to the eventual winner but hit the fence hard and lost all chance.
'My fellow loves the top of the ground and this is his trip. I know the other one was coming but my chap has pinged the last, pricked his ears and done it well,' said Whelan.
Returned at 15/8 the gelding was completing a hat-trick after wins at Huntingdon and Fontwell.
Tom Messenger, a jockey for 14 years, retired after the 1st Queens Dragoon Guards Chase but there was no fairy-tale send off for the Midlands rider.
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Messenger has quit the saddle to become assistant trainer to Dan Skelton. On favourite Fort Gabriel, Messenger survived the gelding's blunder three out. He recovered but after losing his irons was unable to challenge the leading pair. The race went to 13-year-old Fort George under Brodie Hampson, the veteran fighting off the challenge of champion Richard Johnson on Lawless Island, returned at 17/2.
What the opening hurdle contest lacked in quality it made up for in drama. Favourite Little Windmill fell as Tomsk set a fiery early pace. But when he faded, it left Thyne for Gold and Heresmynumber clear. At the last Heresmynumber fell to leave Will Kennedy's gelding to score at for a first career win.
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Sam Twiston-Davies' only ride was a winning one on 7/4 favourite Hassle trained by Richard Newland. He delivered the winner perfectly to beat Princess Roania.
Tom Scudamore, celebrating his 34th birthday, was robbed of a present when edged out by Leighton Aspell on Salto Chisco in the chase.
Scudamore, on Willem, led from the start but Aspell got the Oliver Sherwood trained gelding home at 5/2 in a race which saw favourite Herons Heir fall early on.
The finale, for lady amateur riders, went to Hampson on Lee Side Lady the 13/8 favourite, completing a 24/1 double for her talented young rider.