Barbers Shop a cut above at Fakenham
Her Majesty The Queen started Diamond Jubilee celebrations early at Fakenham on Friday with a winning double on the seven-race Countryside Alliance Race Day card.
Barbers Shop, back in action after a break of 447 days, and superbly turned out by trainer Nicky Henderson, gave a sparkling display to win the three-runner Walter Wales Fox Hunters Chase.
Third in the 2009 King George, Barbers Shop, injured in the 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup, gave real notice that he was back in business, giving Nick de Boinville a superb ride.
Earlier Her Majesty’s five-year-old bay gelding Open Hearted, also trained by Henderson, looked regally supreme in winning the European Breeders Fund two-and-a-half-mile hurdle.
Given a tender ride by five-pound claimer Jerry McGrath, the 2-1 favourite took up the running three out and held off closest market rival Kuilsriver.
Open Hearted, a big chasing type in the making, won well after taking up the cracking pace set by outsider Black Dragon early on.
Feature race of the day, the Countryside Alliance Chase, was won by On Borrowed Wings. Well handicapped on hurdles form, the David Arbutnot trained and Tom Cannon ridden winner took it up after the first fence and stretched his rivals into submission to win the three-miler by eight lengths, at 7-1, from top weight Ogee.
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On Borrowed Wings received a warm welcome into the winner’s enclosure to receive the Prince Carlton Cup in a race named in honour of the horse who won 10 times at the track, the last time in 1990 at the age of 15.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls was running his Cheltenham fancies at meetings at Sandown and Newbury but his luck was out at Fakenham when his 10-11 favourite Like Minded, making his chasing debut, in the Andy Don Memorial Chase over three miles, could only finish second.
Enter Paradise, at 7-4, was well ridden from the front throughout by Dave Crosse and the Charlie Mann trained chestnut won comfortably by 13 lengths despite the urgings of Ryan Mahon on the market leader.
Seven-pound claimer Killian Moore got the seven-race card off to a good start winning on the Alex Hales trained Lilac Belle in the seller.
Favourite Brilliant, winner of the race last year, faded after the first circuit but put in a late charge. However, Lilac Belle had taken it up half a mile out and held on at 8-1 to beat Prince Freddie and the fast-finishing favourite.
Closest finish of the day saw a dogged Grassfinch, ridden by Jimmy McCarthy for trainer Renee Robeson, at 16-1, just hold on to win the long-distance hurdle by less than a length from Floreat and Bobcatbilly, while the final event, a two-mile mares bumper, went to outsider She’s A Dante, ridden by Hadden Frost and trained by Martin Bosley, returned at 22-1.
Next meeting is on Friday, March 16, first race at 2.20pm.