Amateur rider Conor Shoemark announces intention to turn professional at action-packed Fontwell Park meeting


Connor Shoemark

Conor Shoemark

Talented amateur rider Conor Shoemark announced that he would shortly be turning professional after he finished second with Upton Mead to Tony McCoy,  who won the handicap chase over two miles six furlongs at Fontwell Park yesterday, Tuesday, with Jonjo O’Neill’s 1-4 shot Full of Joy.

Shoemark and Upton Mead just failed to catch Full of Joy on the run in. Upton Mead is trained by Kevin Tork, based at Leigh, near Gatwick. The young rider, aged 19 has partnered the six-year-old 13 times in all, including all four wins and several places.

Shoemark’s father and grandfather were both accomplished jockeys is considered a bright prospect himself and is based with Fergal O’Brien at Stow-on-the Wold. He has ridden 10 winners and 18 places during his career as an amateur.

Upton Mead- to have a have a well-earned holiday

Upton Mead- to have  a well-earned holiday

Kevin Tork bought the horse for only £500 and sent him out for his spectacular debut win with Shoemark in the saddle last autumn. He revealed that Upton Mead enjoys being turned out in the field at home between races, but said he will give the horse a long holiday now.

A former point to point rider himself, he specialises in buying cheap horses and bringing them on to win- with Zukov another of his past successes.

Alan King had won the opening Novices Hurdle Race at Fontwell Park with 7-4 favourite Jojabean, ridden by Daryl Jacob. The victory came at the expense of 9-1 shot Ya Hafed, trained by Sheena West at Lewes, which was a valiant second under Leighton Aspell

But there was a major upset in the Novices’ Steeplechase, when Suerte Al Salto trained by Chris Gordon at Winchester overturned the Paul Nicholls-trained Prospect Wells.


Suerte Al Salto with jockey Tom Cannon and owner David Henery

Suerte Al Salto with jockey Tom Cannon and owner David Henery

The combination of Gordon and jockey Tom Cannon swung into familiar winning action to take the race. Suerte Al Salto, owned by David Henery, was making his chase debut in impressive style.

An even bigger shock came in the Handicap Hurdle race over two and a quarter miles when Catherine Boxall, an amateur rider with a 7lb claim, went clear on Windpfeil, trained by Jo Ewell at Lambourn to a 28-1 victory.

Peter Bowen made the trip from Haverford West pay off with Quel Ballistic, an impressive 10-1 winner of the Novice Chase over three-and-a-quarter miles, with Richard Johnson in the saddle.  The Kayf Tara gelding had unseated his rider several times before joining Bowen this season, where he completed his first  race in a while on his debut outing for his new handler almost a month ago..


Quel Ballistic and Richard Johnson

Quel Ballistic and Richard Johnson

The change has clearly done him good for he had the measure of  Colin Tizzard’s well-fancied Dimpsy Time, and Inner Steel, trained by Lydia Richards near Chichester gained third place under a fine ride by Leighton Aspell.

The Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle Race of the day was won by 9-2 shot Nicky Nutjob ridden by Ciaran McKee and trained by John O’Shea. The top combination of trainer John Ferguson and jockey Denis O’ Regan won the National Hunt Flat Race with the impressive 2-1 runner, Father Edward.


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