Norton hoping Glenard can prove to be a Chester delight
Franny Norton was heading for his best season last year until a filly slipped over with him in the paddock at Leicester in September and the jockey snapped a fibula and tibia.
After months of swimming and running up sand dunes, the Liverpool-based rider made his comeback three months ago, but it has been a slow spring.
Norton, however, was delighted to win a Listed race on Mark Johnston's Special Meaning at Goodwood on Saturday – his second success of the season.
Today he hopes the winners will start rolling again with the same regularity as last season when he returns to Chester, the tight course he considers home and around which he is an acknowledged master.
Norton (43) has a 16pc strike rate at Chester in the past five years. In 2013 that rose to 19pc when he had 10 winners from 52 rides at the course. "It suits my style of riding," he explained. "It is a course that you need to attack. If you sit back and aren't in the firing line, you start relying on luck."
Norton is remarkably pragmatic about his injury. "I was flying at the time and was nailed on for 100 winners but it stopped me in my tracks. There were some benefits – I got to spend quality time with my children for once."
Always keen on his fitness, from the days he combined riding with boxing, Norton made the most of an antigravity suit with floats, which allowed him to jog in water without any impact long before the leg was strong enough to run on.
Ironically the one race at Chester Norton has never won is the Chester Cup and in this afternoon's big race he rides the Charlie Hills-trained Glenard.
"I got beaten in the Chester Cup by the shortest of short-heads once," Norton recalled. "I haven't ridden Glenard but, like his father Barry, Charlie likes to do well at Chester so the horse will be trained to the minute, and he is a trainer in form."
Aidan O'Brien is hoping his Terrific can live up to her name by landing his fourth Cheshire Oaks in the last seven years. The 1.3m guineas filly won twice as a juvenile and stayed on for third place behind stablemate Dazzling in a Listed race at Navan on her return.
"She ran well in Navan and won't mind going round a bend," O'Brien said. "She is lazy, which is why she wears blinkers. It's just to keep her occupied as she doesn't do a lot – she was like that last year.
"She's in good form, she stays and she'll get the trip well. Chester is a good, sharp track and it's not too hard on the horses." (© Daily Telegraph, London)