Tony McCoy took centre stage at Fakenham on what could potentially be his last visit to the track with a short-priced double including one for his boss, JP McManus.
The 19-times champion jockey was made to earn every penny of his riding fee aboard his first winner Capard King in the At The Races Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
Heading out of the back straight for the final time in the three-mile contest it looked as though the odds-on favourite would be booked for second with long-time leader Twin Barrels appearing to be travelling the better.
However, slowly but surely under McCoy’s perseverance he reeled in the 50-1 shot to take matters up before the last to follow up his win at Huntingdon earlier in the month and score by five lengths.
“He won at Huntingdon OK and I can’t see how he was made a 4-9 on shot today. Hopefully he will improve, but he made hard work of it,” said McCoy of the Jonjo O’Neill-trained six-year-old.
If Clean Sheet is to be McCoy’s last winner at the West Norfolk track then he could have hardly asked for a more easier one with the pair not out of cruise control to land the spoils in the EBF Stallions National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle.
While making heavy weather of his victory on his previous outing at Newbury, the six-year-old, running in the green and gold silks of McManus, looked an entirely different animal in winning by a comfortable three lengths to complete a double for McCoy and also trainer Nicky Henderson.
“I don’t know if he is a great improver, but what he is doing is getting the hang of racing. He won and that is the main thing. He has a bit of size about him so he might be OK as a chaser,” said McCoy of the 8-11 favourite.
Canuspotit (7-4 favourite) can be expected to receive a lofty hike in the weights from the handicapper after destroying his rivals in the Tim Barclay Memorial Handicap Chase.
Despite being a maiden over the larger obstacles, the Lucy Wadham-trained eight-year-old performed like an old hand to rout his opposition by 27 lengths.
“I was a little bit concerned with the horse taking on some seasoned handicappers around a fast track like this,” said winning jockey Leighton Aspell.
“With Full Ov Beans coming out of the race early I ended up in the lead earlier than I planned. He is an improving horse who was at the bottom of the weights and deserved his place in the race.”
Medieval Chapel (2-5) put in a foot-perfect round of jumping to get off the mark over fences at the third time of asking in the Andy Don Memorial Beginners’ Chase.
Although not one of the leading lights from the Henderson yard, the eight-year-old, sporting the colours made famous by Simonsig, made light work of his three rivals with a bold front-running display under Nico de Boinville to score by 23 lengths.
“The race slightly fell apart and we had to make our own way home. As soon as the race revved up he started to enjoy it and jumped really well,” said De Boinville.
“He is very genuine and jumps well which is what you need around here. The better ground was key today.”
Paul John ensured McCoy’s day did not get off to a winning one when guiding Dont Call Me Oscar (8-1) to a pillar-to-post victory in the Independent Racecourses Ltd Selling Handicap Hurdle.
Sent straight into the lead by the 7lb claimer, the eight-year-old was shadowed for much of the two-mile race by McCoy aboard favourite Staff Sergeant.
“The plan all along was to bounce out and make all and take no prisoners. Although he won on heavy at Wincanton Mark Gillard (trainer) said to me that he would be better on quicker ground.
“It is always nice to get one over the champ. He is such a legend though, it was a privilege to be riding in the race with him.”
Gina Andrews got one over her soon-to-be-husband Tom Ellis when teaming up with her father Simon to take the William Bulwer-Long Memorial Novices’ Fox Hunters Chase with Can Mestret (11-8).
In the concluding EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Mares’ Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race, 33-1 shot Unbuckled left her opening run at Doncaster well and truly behind when accounting for some useful rivals in the hands of Trevor Whelan.