Last-fence drama at Fakenham’s opening meeting
Last fence drama engulfed the feature race at the opening meeting of the National Hunt season at sunny Fakenham yesterday.
Favourite Forgotten Gold, under Paddy Brennan for trainer Tom George, had led for the majority of the three-mile October Handicap Chase, but at the final fence buckled and crashed out of the contest.
That left the Lucy Wadham-trained Wiesentraum in front and under Leighton Aspell the chestnut held on to win by a neck from the fast-finishing The Rainbow Hunter under Nick Schofield for Kim Bailey.
'He may have one more race and then a break although he doesn't want it too soft,' said Newmarket-based Wadham, who added that she had changed the gelding's diet since a disappointing run last time out.
Returned at 7/1, Wiesentraum, German for Meadow Dream, travelled like a dream although Scottish raider Aneyeforaneye was going well before falling three out in an action-packed contest
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Trainer Paul Nicholls' clearly rates Wonderful Charm and it was easy to see why as the five-year-old, under Daryl Jacob, won the novice chase at 8/11.Only three of the five remained after three of the 16 fences with outsider Next Exit crashing out at the first and Le Reve following at the open ditch.
The result was never in doubt as Jacob sat motionless on the favourite to defeat hard-at-work AP McCoy on runner-up, Bear's Affair.
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There was another odds-on success when Nicky Henderson's First In The Queue, a Cheltenham winner last week, defied top weight to beat All That Remains in the Autumn Handicap Hurdle.
Jockey Jeremiah McGrath's three-pound allowance made the difference as the class horse in the race just prevailed to score at 10/11.
Trainer Neil King is on his honeymoon but would have been delighted with Persian Herald's victory in the opening hurdles contest. An early leader, the grey gave way a mile out when market leaders Nebula Storm and Pindar took over.
But on the final bend, claimer Trevor Whelan got a great run up the inside on Persian Herald to win from Pindar at 7/2.
Two hurdlers successful in their last races in France looked to be fighting it out in the fillies' juvenile hurdle but both were caught after the last by Nellie Forbush.
Paul Moloney delivered the winner perfectly to take the honours for trainer Sophie Leech at 5/1, with Chasse En Mer second and Ariane Nopolis third.
Moloney then went on to complete a 65/1 double when winning on The Stig for trainer Nick Littmoden in the finale. The Stig made every yard to win at 10/1 with 4/7 favourite Prince Siegfried a disappointing fourth of six runners.
Local interest in the penultimate race, a handicap chase, ended three out when Wymondham trainer Caroline Fryer's Riddlestown fell.
That left favourite Plum Pudding and last time out Uttoxeter winner Midnight Charmer to battle out the finish with the latter taking the spoils at 9/4 for claimer James Banks and trainer Emma Baker.
Next meeting at Fakenham is on Tuesday, November 19, first race at 1pm.