Runners-up spot for Fakenham favourite
It was King Harald's day at Fakenham yesterday as the Mark Bradstock-trained gelding conquered course legend Cool Roxy in the feature race of the day, the Welcome Home the Light Dragoons Handicap Chase at 2.
It was King Harald's day at Fakenham yesterday as the Mark Bradstock-trained gelding conquered course legend Cool Roxy in the feature race of the day, the Welcome Home the Light Dragoons Handicap Chase at 2.20.
In a thrilling contest, the former Cheltenham festival winner set the pace throughout - closely followed by Craven and Cool Roxy and coming to the last it was anyone's race.
But King Harald and Mattie Batchelor just had enough on the run-in to deny the ever gallant Cool Roxy by a length.
“He was a very classy horse, winning at the Cheltenham festival a few seasons ago, and the only concern today was the ground. We will give him a rest now and look for some better ground,” said the overjoyed winning trainer.
As for Cool Roxy, he ran a real cracker of a race, from his highest ever handicap mark, and to get so close to the winner was a fantastic effort. He was duly given a warm reception from the Fakenham faithful.
His regular pilot, Chris Honour paid tribute to the horse, saying: “He was seven pounds higher today and he has worked so hard for a circuit. He has run his heart out - he's a star.”
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The in-form partnership of Paul Nicholls and Sam Thomas continued their rich rein of form, notching up a double with Desert Quest and Colorado Pearl.
The odds-on favourite Desert Quest put in a good jumping performance to win the Kevin Taylor & Associates Novices' Chase at 1.20. Always travelling well, Desert Quest quickly stamped his authority on the final circuit to win by 12 lengths from Space Cowboy in second.
Jockey Sam Thomas commented afterwards: “I am very happy with the result. It was not a great race, but he had a nice spin round and jumped very well and did everything that was asked of him.”
The double was completed when Colorado Pearl won the Beginners Chase at 2.50, but jockey Sam Thomas had to work hard on the 11/10 favourite to hold off the challenge of Present Oriented by half a length.
Both horses look worth following this season.
Hall of Fame put in a game performance to win the opening race, the Robertson Barracks Juvenile Maiden Hurdle. The 7/4 favourite was given a peach of a ride by Graham Lee, who settled the horse off the pace before sending him into the lead two out, before running on well following the last to deny the fast finishing Book of Facts by a neck.
Trainer Jim Best made it three wins from four starts at Fakenham this season when Dundridge Native ran out an easy winner of the Three Cheers to the Armed Forces Handicap Hurdle at 1.50.
This six year-old mare never looked in trouble and gave jockey Christian Williams merely a steering job to win by 27 lengths.
“We bought her for £3,000 at Ascot sales and prior to coming to me she had ran 18 times without a getting a blow in any of her races. All we have done is to improve her jumping and got her really fit,” said a delighted trainer.
The finale at 3.20 went to the 13/2 shot Run To Me from the Newmarket stable of Gay Kellaway.
This three year old mare out-stayed the field and ran away with race, finally winning by 17 lengths from the well backed 7/4 favourite Ramvaswani, in second spot and 100-1 outsider, Southburgh from the Christine Dunnett stable, in third.
The next meeting at Fakenham is on Monday, January 14, with the first race off at 1.20 pm.