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Pensioner wins Fakenham race

PUBLISHED: 15:28 20 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:15 07 July 2010

Pensioner-power proved to be a runaway triumph at Fakenham racecourse on Friday when 70-year-old amateur jockey Fred Farrow romped home to victory.

But the Fakenham race featuring eight novice jockeys could be the last because there is a lack of riders putting themselves forward.

Pensioner-power proved to be a runaway triumph at Fakenham racecourse on Friday when 70-year-old amateur jockey Fred Farrow romped home to victory.

But the Fakenham race featuring eight novice jockeys could be the last because there is a lack of riders putting themselves forward.

Racecourse chief executive David Hunter said there had been only eight riders taking part this year - and if more people did not come forward the race may not continue.

He added: “We need the will and desire of the riders for it to continue, and those wanting to take part need to contact me several months in advance so that they have time to properly prepare. I would be happy for people to contact me immediately if they are interested in taking part next year.”

It was the second success in the annual amateur race for Mr Farrow, an ex-London dock worker, who lives at Runcton Holme, near Downham Market. He last won the race in 2002.

Delighted Fred crossed the finishing line on his mount, Ballyowen.

As he rode over the one-and-a-half mile flat course, the commentator kept light-heartedly referring to the popular rider as the “oldest jockey in the world”.

Safe in the winner's enclosure, Fred confessed that he “didn't know anything about it and I didn't know where I was going”.

His daughter, Karen Blake, who was there watching his victory with members of the family, described her dad as a “legend”.

“He was fantastic and we will be celebrating his success in the bar,” she said.

For Hindringham farmer and part-time comic Keith Loads, a starvation diet to reach his required 12st weight didn't quite do the trick because he was runner-up on Mighty Kitchener in the race he has won on two previous occasions.

Since Boxing Day, Mr Loads, who is well-known as the comic in the Thursford Spectacular Christmas shows, has been on a strict diet and has cut out chips, beer and sweet puddings to reach his required weight.

He said he had been on a “starvation diet”, surviving on salads, fruit and vegetables and some lean chicken.

Mr Loads said that the race would be the last for him, as he considered the age of 52 too old for racing.

He was awarded the prize for the best turned-out horse in the amateurs' race.

Ed Howard, of Shotesham, riding Lucy Babe in his first race was in third place. He was awarded a prize for raising the most sponsorship after collecting £4,600 for Macmillan Nurses.

He said his debut race had been a “brilliant experience”.

Together the riders raised nearly £12,000 for a number of different charities.

The race was staged during

the Countryside Counts event

which focuses on the issues of the countryside. Some of the proceeds go towards promoting countryside issues and a education day on a Norfolk estate for school pupils.

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