Favourites didn’t have it all their own way at Fontwell Park’s meeting yesterday, when there were some unexpected results on a wet afternoon. The opening ‘Hands and Heels’ hurdle race over a marathon three miles three furlongs was a tester for both horses and jockeys.
Freddy Tett was a casualty early on in the slowly run race in a heavy fall after being unseated by the Roger-Curtis trained Elegant Olive- but was talking back in the weighing room and taken to be checked out at hospital.
The spoils went to the Linda Mongan-trained 14-1 shot Sea Cadet which was well ridden by Jack Sherwood to take the lead two out, staying on well. Lawney Hill’s Miss Mayfair was close up for most of the race with Charlie Deutsch in the saddle but couldn’t quite match the winner, with Absolute Shambles and Louis Muspratt beaten into third place by just a neck. Linda Mongan is a shrewd trainer, based at Epsom, who has 20 horses in and had been worried about the rain-softened ground- and some of other runners will come into their own in drying conditions.
In the two-mile six furlong handicap steeplechase, local horse Venetian Lad, trained near Chichester by Lydia Richards, was an excellent second on ground much softer than he likes. He is very much a Fontwell specialist with four wins and many places to his credit and this was only his second appearance of the season because he needs good ground.
He showed he is a still a force to be reckoned with and looks certain to win again at the track, given ground he likes. Ridden as usual by Marc Goldstein, he just failed to peg back winner Keltic Rhythm, trained at Newmarket by Neil King, with Trevor Whelan in the saddle.
Keltic Rhythm was having his seventh run of the season for owners Sharon and Patrick Plews, and runs under the banner of their business Stephen Lower Insurances Ltd. But he had only switched to fences from hurdles last month, with a win, and his owners were delighted with the second victory over larger obstacles.
The Docker Hughes Memorial Race for novices saw odds-on favourite Arthurs Oak, trained by Venetia Williams beaten into third place by almost 16 lengths, with David Pipe’s horse Virutel D’Oudon taking the race in impressive style with Conor O’ Farrell in the saddle.
But trainer Chris Gordon has an interesting newcomer in Ballyheigue Bay, who was less than a length away in second place, ridden by Tom Cannon. The seven-year-old has come from point to pointing and had made his debut under Rules, when third at Plumpton two weeks ago. Definitely one for the notebook for the future.
Tarraco then gave Venetia Williams a winner at Fontwell in the three mile two furlong handicap chase under Aidan Coleman, when the 11-4 joint favourite won by a short head from Danners, sent out by Giles Smyly. When it came to a confrontation, Tarracco put in a determined effort to take the race by the narrrow margin.
When Norfolk Sky won the Mares Maiden Hurdle Race, it was the first win in a year for jockey David Crosse, on board this five-year-old trained at Sherborne by Brian Barr. This horse had previously been trained on the Flat by Linda Mongan but Crosse gave the 5-1 shot an outstanding ride, making virtually all the running and surviving a mistake at the last.
Nico de Boinville took the final chase of the day on board Ban Pauling’s 9-4 favourite Malibu Sun and the bumper race was won by the Lewes combination of Sheena West with Marc Goldstein riding 4-1 shot Justanother Muddle.