Ashforth’s Angles: Fakenham a must for any bucket list

Horses race past the grandstand at Fakenham

PICTURE: Getty Images Ashforth's Angles: Trips to Fakenham always fun
By David Ashforth 6:00PM 14 NOV 2016

EVERYONE should go to Fakenham races at least once before they die. After that it becomes more difficult. It's quite difficult while still alive because the Norfolk racecourse is notoriously far from almost everywhere except some parts of Norfolk.

Really, Fakenham needs to be moved, without losing its unique charm. After all, in 1968 London Bridge was sold for $2.5 million and moved to Lake Havasu City in Arizona, where it is now a top tourist attraction. I expect Londoners go to see it. I don't know if there are plans to move the Thames, as well. Anyway, it's something for the West Norfolk Sporting Trust, which owns the racecourse, to consider.

Admittedly, relocation to another county would make it more difficult for pupils at the Great Hockham Primary School to repeat their recent visit as part of the Racing to School programme. Their visit prompted a glowing letter from the headmaster which it is worth visiting the racecourse's website to read. The Racing to School programme does some terrific work – well done to them.

Fakenham began with one meeting, moved up to two in 1965, had reached nine by 2007 and currently stages 13 meetings a year. It's a splendid, justifiably cherished course but as the number of racedays has increased so have the fuel bills.

On Tuesday, the seven runners in the opening selling race (1.05) will travel a grand total of about 3,200 miles for their round trips. Alexandra Dunn has two in the race and two more later on but Jonagold and Debt To Society are Evan Williams' and Richard Ford's only runners and they will face round trips of about 515 and 444 miles respectively. Then there are the jockeys, 13 of whom are making the journey for a single ride.

Not many rides are available because, even with ground officially good to soft, soft in places, the biggest field is seven and the six races have attracted a total of only 32 runners. It's disappointing and in sharp contrast to Southwell's jumps meeting which, despite offering average win prize money of £3,954 compared with Fakenham's £4,487, boasts 79 runners for its seven races.

Andrew Thornton rides Inishrush (12.45) and Diamond Tammy (3.15) in his continuing quest to reach 1,000 winners but neither seem likely helpers. I wish some leading trainers would club together and stick him on a few bankers.

While Thornton is seeking his 1,00oth winner as a jockey, Theodore Ladd is seeking his first. Ladd, possibly a descendant of actor Alan Ladd, has his third ride, at Lingfield on Our Little Sister (3.55) for boss Hughie Morrison. In the same apprentice race Le Tissier will be trying to stop being a maiden, at the 12th time of asking. Being Le Tissier, he could probably score if he wanted to but can't be bothered.

After something (I'm sorry but I don't know what) has won the race there is a great emptiness – the 3.55 is the last race. An early night for punters, and stable staff.

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