Sunshine and a bumper crowd marked Fontwell Park’s family fun raceday yesterday, supporting the Sussex Snowdrop Trust Charity- and it was eventful day with some exciting finishes.
There was an unexpected result in the opening handicap hurdle race when certain winner Mercers Court, trained by Neil King at Newmarket, swerved towards the stands in the closing stages when clear,unseating Trevor Whelan. It was thought the horse was trying to find the exit from which it had emerged on to the course.
Urcalin and winning jockey Joshua Moore
Copyright Jeannie Knight
Dollar Bill, trained at Findon by Josh Gifford, took up the lead and was unlucky to be caught on the line by Urcalin, ridden by Joshua Moore and trained at Bear Green, near the Surrey/ Sussex border by David Arbuthnot.
The trainer, who has a dozen in his string, said the plan would be to move Urcalin up to three mile staying hurdles, but that eventually the six-year-old would go chasing next year.
There were five greys in the paddock for the Handicap Steeplechase over two miles two furlongs, and they dominated the race, which had attracted ten runners. The first four past the post were all grey horses, and the one to cross the line first by an easy 11 lengths was Popaflora trained by Dan Skelton at Alcester and ridden by Harry Skelton. Popaflora beat The Informant trained by Seamus Mullins, with Mac’s Grey trained by Zoe Davison in third place.
Popaflora, owners’ group and jockey Harry Skelton Photo: Jeannie Knight
Dan Skelton said: “Popaflora is a fun horse for Punchestown Syndicate, whose members come from across the South East. I was surprised that he was favourite because he hadn’t got much previous form. I haven’t had him long but thought a drop back in trip might suit him and he’s a nice horse at the right level.”
Venetia Williams and jockey Aiden Coleman won the Maiden Hurdle Race with Cloudy Beach, a grey gelding, whose future probably lies over fences. Cloudy Beach got up by a neck on the line to win from David Bridgwater’s Garnock, and will now have a break for the summer.
Cloudy Beach and Aiden Coleman coming back into winner’s enclosure Photo: Jeannie Knight
The feature race of the day- the Knight Fencing Ltd suppports Sussex Snowdrop Handicap Chase, over three and a quarter miles, turned out to be a thrilling affair, and was won by Seebright, owned by Mrs Dawn Fleming of Chichester, and trained by Victor Dartnell.
Locally trained American Spin, ridden by Tom Cannon, had gone off at a very fast pace, with Jamie Moore on board the popular Fruity O’ Rooney in hot pursuit. Inevitably American Spin finished tailed off but Seebright was shaken up to challenge the two from home, winning from the Philip Hobbs-trained Imperial Circus. Fruity O’ Rooney plugged on to finish in fourth place.
Seebright with trainer Victor Dartnell (left), jockey Aiden Coleman and owner Mrs Dawn Fleming and her husband (right)
Photo: Jeannie Knight
Victor Dartnell said he intended to give Seebright a holiday now, turned out in the field. The horse had won recently at Perth, following his previous Fontwell victory. “He’s earned a break now and I might consider targeting the Cheltenham Open Meeting in November with him. He has won seven jump races now and this was his fourth win at Fontwell Park ,” he said.
Mrs Fleming was thrilled with her horse’s latest victory, saying: “It’s a particular pleasure to see him win at my local track.” Her horse was ridden by Aiden Colman, a late substitute for normal jockey Jack Doyle. Doyle was said to have given up his ride on the horse after failing a breathaliser test.Stewards confirmed that an inquiry was held after Doyle provided a breath sample which was found to contain alcohol in a concentration above the threshold level and suspended him from riding for the rest of the day.
Danny Knight of sponsors Knight Fencing Ltd and his daughter Poppy presenting Mrs Fleming with her prize
Photo: Jeannie Knight
David Pipe won the two and a quarter mile handicap hurdle with Street Entertainer rridden by Conor O’ Farrell, while the final chase of the afternoon went to Grand National winning trainer Dr Richard Newland, who sent out odds-on Neverownup with Tom O’Brien in the saddle.The final handicap hurdle of the day was won by Chris Gordon’s 5-1 shot Lightentertainment, ridden by Tom Cannon.
Fontwell Park has two June fixtures- Wednesday June 4 and Tuesday June 10, before a break until an evening meeting on Thursday August 14.