Despite some small fields because of firm ground, racegoers at Fontwell Park enjoyed some highly competitive racing yesterday, when there were some unexpected results and hard-fought finishes.
There were only 39 runners across the seven races, and the fact that the Placepot for the day paid out £4,906.00 for a £1 stake showed that favourites didn’t have it all their own way.
With excellent weather it was a great day out for all the family and there was a betting upset in the opening mares’ novice hurdle. Champion jockey Tony McCoy finished last in the four runner field on board the Jim Best-trained favourite, Money Money Money.
Trainer Jamie Snowden won the race with 20-1 shot Lucy’s Girl, after a fine ride from jockey Tom O’Brien, beating Hopstrings, sent out by Charlie Brooks. Local horse Shantou Breeze, trained by Michael Madgwick, had won over fences recently, and finished third in this hurdle race.
Tom O’ Brien has a strike rate of more than 70 per cent when riding for the Lambourn trainer at Fontwell Park, so the big price was a bonus for supporters. The horse’s trainer, and owner Mr John H W Finch, hope to build on this win by the six-year-old former point-to-pointer.
Oxfordshire trainer Lawney Hill continued her run of winners at the Sussex track when Safe Investment took the Overland Travel Handicap Steeplechase overturning favourite Alderbook Lad.
It was the opening leg of a cross-country double for Lawney, who was at Stratford saddling up Font, which got the better of the favourite there. Lawney’s husband Alan saddled up Safe Investment, which was ridden by David Bass at Fontwell.
He said: ” We are expecting Font to win,and thought this horse would be second or third, so the victory here was a bonus. I’ve left my son combining on the farm while I came here. Safe Investment had won over hurdles and it was a good win today.”
Tony McCoy finally came away from the meeting with a double, started with Bold Raider, trained by Jonjo O’ Neill in the Novice Handicap Hurdle race and completed with odds-on favourite Sugar Hiccup in the last race.
Local trainer Gerry Enright sent out Dr Ric, and the eight-year-old finished third in the Novice Handicap Hurdle of the day His Lewes-based runner had won well over fences recently on firm ground, which he loves, but Gerry explained: “The handicapper put him up 16lb for that win, which we felt was outrageous and doesn’t give him a chance.”
Trainer Caroline Keevil had a boost when 9-5 shot Cinevator won the Beginners’ Steeple Chase by a comfortable six lengths. The six-year-old had three previous hurdle wins to his credit and this was a good performance over fences with Ian Popham on board.
Caroline lost her best horse, Marshal Zhukov, in a freak accident in the field this year, when he broke a leg.
She said: “We were devastated. It was an enormous blow for a yard like ours and we loved him so much. Cinevator’s win is a boost for us and we have other horses, such as Larks Wing, in the pipeline, but nothing will compensate for the loss of Marshal Zhukov.”