Lucy Wadham welcomed in 2015 with a winner at Fakenham on New Year’s Day after Minstrels Gallery routed his opposition in the feature race.
Stepping outside of novice company for the first time, the six-year old made light work of his opening handicap mark of 117, to claim the Class Three 2m4f handicap hurdle.
Kept wide throughout the contest by jockey Leighton Aspell in search of better ground, the son of Refuse To Bend, who finished seventh in the 2012 Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes, put in a fluent round of jumping before coming home by 14-lengths in his first attempt over the trip.
“I am stunned by the manner of the win. I thought he might be in the shake up but I didn’t expect him to bolt up like that,” said the Newmarket handler.
“I was hoping he would get an opening mark of 110 but he was given 117 and it looks like he was well in. He was quite relaxed throughout the race and got the trip really well.
“As we now know he does stay that trip we have now got options for him which is nice.”
Teenage jockey Harrison Beswick celebrated his first winner under rules when coming from well off the pace aboard the Pam Sly trained Acertain Circus to take run two-mile maiden hurdle, and get one over his boss Ben Pauling.
The five-year old, who was subject to plenty of support before the race, picked off long-time leader Baths Well, trained by Pauling, before getting the measure of favourite Benissimo over the last flight, to open his account over hurdles.
“He didn’t really travel on the bad ground but when I took him out wide he just thrived off the good ground,” said the 19 year old.
“That was a great way to start the new year as that was my first winner under rules.”
Kielan Woods was left cursing his luck after getting off Acertain Circus earlier in the card, however his spirits were lifted later on when steering Shinooki to victory in the Class Five 2m5f novices’ handicap steeple chase.
“Shinooki has won well as he has had his problems and is probably not the bravest chaser,” said Woods. “Small fields on that ground suit him well. Now he has got his head in front he might be more competitive.”
While victory for Murtys Delight in the opening 2m4f selling hurdle was not in the same league as that of Pineau De Re’s in last year’s Crabbies Grand National, it was still a pleasing success to his trainer Dr Richard Newland.
“It is just a relief that we have got the horses head in front as he has been very disappointing,” said Newland.
“It was hard work out there but that probably looks like his grade. Once the favourite under performed it gave him a chance.”
Sam Jones made his sole ride at the West Norfolk track a winning one when striking aboard the Fiona Keyhoe trained Vision Du Coeur in the concluding 2m7½f handicap hurdle.
“With it being his first run for us we didn’t really know what would happen however he had worked well at home,” said Michael Keyhoe, husband of the winning trainer and owner.
“He travelled really well in to the race and I think the small track seemed to have suited him while he handled the ground well.”
In the other race on the card George Treacy took another small step to matching the efforts of his uncle, that of Grade One winning jockey Tommy Treacy, when registering his second winner on English shores after getting the best out of Alright Benny in the 2m5½f amateur riders’ handicap chase.