Tony McCoy and Paul Nicholls draw blanks at Fakenham Races
It was a day to forget for the champions at Fakenham yesterday when both champion trainer Paul Nicholls and champion jockey Tony McCoy drew blanks.
Champion trainer Nicholls suffered a real upset when his odds on favourite in the feature race was the last to finish.
Deireadh Re, making a chasing debut, was the third and the final finisher in the four-runner three-mile novice chase worth more than �9,000.
With a circuit to go there was little to choose between the four runners. But Brass Tax faded and was pulled up while Same Difference, despite jumping right, continued to set the pace.
However, Deireadh Re, under Harry Derham, faded quickly three out and left Same Difference and Al Co clear with two to jump. Al Co, under Dougie Costello, flashed past Same Difference and with a brilliant leap at the last raced clear to win at 9-1 by 21 lengths.
It was a fine performance by Al Co and a great victory for Haverfordwest trainer Peter Bowen and his team who made the 339-mile trip.
There was no winning start for champion jockey McCoy when he was well beaten on odds-on Goodwood Starlight in the opener, a two-mile seller over hurdles.
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With two flights to take, the Jim Best trained favourite was overtaken by the Alex Hales trained course and distance winner Lilac Belle.
Seven-pound claimer Killian Moore, pushed the 8-1 shot ahead and ran out an easy 25-length winner in the testing soft ground made worse by three heavy pre-race downpours.
Trainer Hales couldn't double up in the second, a chase over two and a half miles, when his favourite, Farewellatmidnight, unseated jockey Campbell Gilles.
It was left to Phoenix Des Mottes to score at 10-1, giving absent owner-trainer John Cornwall his first winner at the track in six years and his jockey son Joe his first Fakenham success.
Nicholls' earlier runner had to settle for second in the three-mile hurdle, his newcomer Captain Kelly being beaten by Enter Milan.
The winner, trained in Wales by John Flint and ridden by Sam Thomas, was having a first run since a breathing operation which obviously did the trick.
The four-length winner was returned at 4-1 with the disappointing 4-7 favourite Kilmacowen third.
The three-mile Hunter Chase for the Turner Family Trophy produced an amazing win for 10-11 favourite Eleazar under Michael Nolan. With three to jump the eventual winner was 30 lengths adrift of Picabo Kid and Hurricane Carter but drew level at the last and ran on to win by four and a half lengths with Hurricane Carter, the outsider of the six runners, second.
Yesterday's final race was the Ladies Race Day hurdle over two and a half miles which went to long-distance raider Royal Curtsy.
Trained in Selkirk by Stuart Coltherd and ridden by Gary Rutherford, Royal Curtsey won at 8-1 by two and a half lengths from Petit Fleur and Oscar Baby, with McCoy's Bollin Judith a disappointing fourth of six.
The next meeting at Fakenham is the ladies day meeting on Sunday, May 27.