Merriam bows out in style at Fakenham
Alex Merriam closed his riding career with an emphatic winner in front of a bumper crowd at Fakenham's Ladies Day meeting in the sunshine yesterday when locals were able to cheer another success for Wymondham trainer Caroline Fryer.
Merriam, from Eye in Suffolk, had his first winner in 2006/7 and has decided to call it a day from the saddle, but not before riding his father's Bollin Tahini to a three-length success on the 9/4 chance ahead of favourite Clouds of Mist in the long-distance hurdle.
The racecourse made a presentation to Merriam, Newmarket trainer Neil King's stable jockey, who has been riding under rules for eight seasons as well as clocking up plenty of winners point-to-pointing.
His victory took his career tally to 78 wins from more than 1,200 rides.
Merriam gave up his last ride on King's Pairc Na Gcapall to Bridget Andrews, only for the teenager to claim an amazing victory and clinch a 31/1 double for the trainer.
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Former course winner Peak Seasons had the race sewn up at the last but jockey Gerard Galligan hit the deck leaving the race at Andrews' mercy and she duly scored on the 9/1 shot ahead of Eliades Run.
Andrews, 19, then completed a quick double on Fryer's 7/4 favourite Storm To Pass, holding off Antihero in a photo finish.
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'He is only five and is a lovely horse.
'I've been waiting for this race for some time and getting more nervous as it got nearer. I'll give him a rest now,' said Fryer, while congratulating Andrews.
It was Fryer's third winner under rules, the first two also at Fakenham, back on Easter Monday.
Champion jockey AP McCoy had only three rides and made the first tell with a comfortable victory. Riding Jim Best's Lyssio, McCoy travelled well on the 11/4 favourite in the maiden hurdle and scored by eight lengths from Ethics Girl and Annelko.
In the finale, McCoy's planned mount Dubai Sonnet was a non-runner and the champ picked up the ride on John Ferguson's Talented Kid.
Denis O'Regan had been booked to ride but stood himself down after an earlier fall and McCoy looked a certain winner only for Kettlewell under Noel Fehily to spring a surprise at 11/1 for trainer Warren Greatrex.
The £7,000 feature went to Joe Cornwall for trainer father John on previous Fakenham winner, That's The Deal, at 5/1.
That's The Deal was produced expertly to take it up at the last from another previous course winner, The Black Baron, ridden by Leighton Aspell, top jockey at the course for the season.
There was carnage in the Spring Beginners' Chase, easily won by 6/5 favourite Kian's Delight, successful at this meeting last year.
The Tom O'Brien ridden gelding rewarded trainer Peter Bowen's 300-mile round trip from Pembrokeshire with an easy success.
Fancied Cry of Freedom fell four out and outsiders Ugo and Tulla Emerald fell at the last in a race which also suffered a false start.
The meeting marked the end of the 2012/13 season at Fakenham with the next meeting scheduled for Friday, October 25.