Top racing award for Fakenham course

FAKENHAM, one of the quaintest country racecourses in Britain, is joining the ranks of Ascot and Goodwood as a recipient of the prestigious Gold Standard from the Racehorse Owners’ Association.

The award recognises overall excellence in the raceday experience for owners, their horses and stable staff.

The north Norfolk national hunt track, which hosts 10 fixtures a year, joins 15 other current holders of the coveted award across Britain, each of which is reviewed annually.

ROA vice-president Rachel Hood will present the commemorative plaque to the racecourse executive tomorrow (Friday) during the racing welfare meeting which includes the �12,700 ROA Gold Standard Award for Fakenham Handicap Chase.

Fakenham’s total prize-money for the past 12 months stands at more than �370,000.

Their executive and sponsorship contributions for the same period amount to 22 per cent of their overall prize-money pool and — uniquely among Britain’s racecourses — owners are not charged to run their horses at the track.

Sally Rowley-Williams, ROA council member and gold standard committee member, said: “We are very pleased to present the gold standard award to Fakenham Racecourse.

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“It is one of those racecourses that makes horse racing in Britain so special. Fakenham is beloved by followers of national hunt who take great joy in the independent spirit for which the racecourse is so famous.

“Fakenham joins other small racecourses like Wincanton and Pontefract and sits alongside major racing venues like Ascot and Newbury, proving that whether a racecourse is big or small our stable of ROA Gold Standard award holders are all committed to a quality of service to racehorse owners, their horses and stable staff.

“David Hunter and his team have worked closely with us to achieve the award. It is well deserved and is a fitting testament to the quality raceday experience offered to owners.”

David Hunter, chief executive of Fakenham Racecourse, said: “We are delighted to receive this prestigious award, as we pride ourselves on offering a warm Norfolk welcome to all the owners who run their horses here.

“This Gold Standard award recognises all of the work undertaken by my team to ensure that we provide great facilities for owners, hostel accommodation, stabling and an excellent racing surface.”

Fakenham’s race meeting tomorrow (Friday) will start the Norfolk track’s new national hunt season, the course having had its traditional summer break since finishing racing in late May.

During the summer the course has replaced half of the steeple-chase fences as well as carrying out some extensive improvements to areas of the grass track. In addition, a large section of the entrance track has been uniquely upgraded and stabilised by local specialist contractor John Robinson.

The first of the seven races is at 2pm and the last race is at 5.25pm. Adult entrance prices are from �8 to �18 and children 17 years and under, accompanied by an adult, get in free.