Thornton’s Fakenham success marred by double injury worry
Former Gold Cup-winning jockey Andrew Thornton's landmark win at Fakenham was marred by two serious injuries to his colleagues.
Thornton's victory aboard See You Jack (3/1) earned him his first-ever David Turner Trophy for the top jockey at the north Norfolk circuit in Fakenham's seasonal finale.
The experienced rider finished one winner in front of AP McCoy who drew a blank on his two bookings – but fellow jockeys Nick Schofield (leg) and Isabel Tompsett (head) were both taken to the Norfolk and Norwich hospital after crashing falls.
Schofield suffered a suspected broken femur and hand when he was unseated on Oscar Royal in the 3:30pm with Tompsett knocked out aboard Leopold in the 5:10pm finale. The air ambulance was called for Tompsett but the young Welsh amateur was eventually taken by road ambulance after being treated for serious head injuries on course by paramedics for fully 45 minutes in front of the Main Stand.
Thornton admitted beating McCoy was something on an unexpected bonus when See You Jack defied the veteran Keltic Lord in the Light Dragoons Handicap Chase after the duo had reeled in long time leader Dunbrody House.
'Gee whizz that is the first time I can remember being in front of him,' he said. 'I've never won this award before so it's a nice little thing to have. I think I have won more meetings at Fakenham this year than ever before because it is a long way to come and I have never had anything really decent to ride here at the track. That is the top and bottom of it. I don't mind coming here if I have a chance and I was at Newmarket this morning schooling for Alan Bailey so it fitted in quite well.
'I always thought we could catch him at the last because the other horse was stopping so I still thought I had every chance. He was pretty keen before over the shorter trips so the idea was to run him over two miles to get the fizz out of him so that is what we've done. He is what he is, a genuine type of horse, a tough horse and there will be plenty of other races for him. This is a type of track that can catch you out but he handles the ground which is the main thing.'
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Milton Harris claimed the top trainer prize for the sesaon at Fakenham when Pilgrims Lane (7/2 joint favourite) clinched the aptly-titled Congratulations Canaries Premier League Promotion Handicap Chase. Norwich City deputy chairman and keen racegoer Michael Foulger presented winning pilot Jimmy Derham with a trophy after his mount had defied a seven pound penalty for a recent Ludlow success.
'He won at Ludlow only two weeks ago but he takes his racing so well and he is relaxed you wouldn't know it,' said the Irish claimer. 'He's well able to travel. He has won over two so he has got boot. We probably hit the front too soon but he got up well and stuck his head down over the line but he is a brave horse and he was prepared to gallop again right to the finish. This is his time of year.
'He loves good quick, fast ground. He has won over three (miles), he has won over two and distances in between. He is a great fun, summer type of a horse. I have won four or five on him now and I love him. He is a lovely horse. Delighted for the owner Mrs Brown who I have won for on a couple of her horses and Milton the trainer is really flying at the minute.'
McCoy's Sansili (5/2 co-favourite) was a warm order in the opener but the champion had to defer to Jack Quinlan on Monroe Park (5/2 cf) in a thrilling duel up the home straight. Welsh handler Peter Bowen more than made up for his initial disappointment when saddling Peppertree Lane (13/8 fav) and Rio Gael (2/5 fav) to short-priced success.
Pollen Jack (11/4) landed a nice touch for punters when Gina Andrews coaxed a decisive effort from the seven-year-old in the Aylsham Show Bank Holiday 29th August Lady Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle.