Local trainers did well at Fontwell’s Boxing Day meeting

Fontwell Park’s Boxing Day fixture drew the crowds yesterday, when persistent rain produced testing conditions but failed to mar the crowd’s festive spirit. Highlights of the day included a double for West Sussex trainer Lydia Richards, based at Funtington, and her regular local jockey Marc Goldstein.

Mark Goldstein and Venetian Lad Photo: Jeannie Knight

Course specialist Venetian Lad, a consistent nine-year-old roan gelding owned by the Venetian Lad Partnership with Marc Goldstein in the saddle, ran on to hold off The Sneezer, sent out by another Sussex trainer, Daniel Steele . A mistake in the closing stages by The Sneezer, ridden by Gavin Sheehan , cost him the race- but it was a good performance neverthess for this horse, beaten by only just over a length – the duo were 23 lengths clear of third-placed George Nympton.

The Sneezer trained by Daniel Steele Photo: Jeannie Knight

A delighted Lydia Richards said: “The horse won well, even though he prefers much better ground and he just kept on to win.”

The double came when she sent out Volio Vincente, a horse she bought at Ascot sales earlier in the month, to win the handicap chase over three and a quarter miles. She explained: ” He had won at Fontwell Park previously, with the latest win in late November. I was told his form could be erratic, but wanted to see what he would do for me today. Now he has won so well, I am going to sell shares in him and form another owners’ group.”

Volio Vincente with jockey Mark Goldstein Photo: Jeannie Knight

Volio Vincente with jockey Mark Goldstein Photo: Jeannie Knight

The opening juvenile hurdle race was won by Rock of Leon at 7-2, owned by Andy Jansons in conjunction with Alcester trainer Dan Skelton and ridden by David England. The Rock of Gibraltar three-year-old was clearly tired on the run in but the jockey kept him going to win by a neck from odds-on favourite Bishop Wulstan.

Upper Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex and jockey Gavin Sheehan have proved to be a formidable combination and it was no exception when they won the Southern Cranes and Access Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Race with Miss Sophierose ridden by Gavin Sheehan. This gutsy six-year-old  beat the Phillip Hobbs-trained Meetmeatthemoon by just a nose.

Missaophierose with Gavin Sheehan and owners Photo: Jeannie Knight Photo: Jeannie Knight

Miss Sophierose with Gavin Sheehan and owners Photo: Jeannie Knight
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Lewes-trainer Suzy Smith had an excellent success when she sent out Beau Lake, owned by Sergio Gordon-Watson and Graham Willetts, to win the Handicap Hurdle race over two and a quarter miles ridden by amateur rider Harry Bannister. His useful 5lb claim certainly helped, but he also gave this tough 10-year-old gelding a fine ride to beat 9-2 shot Cappielow Park by a neck with odds-on favourite,Major Milbourne trained by Jamie Snowden, finishing 12 lengths further back in third place.

Owner Graham Willett (left) and his wife Sue, with Beau Lake, trainer Suzy Smith and jockey Harry                 Photo: Jeannie Knight

Owner Graham Willett (left) and his wife Sue, with Beau Lake, trainer Suzy Smith and amateur ridier  Harry Bannister Photo: Jeannie Knight

In the Mares Handicap Hurdle over two miles six furlongs, 10-1 shot Rosa Imperialis, trained for Lady Cobham by Robert Walford at Blandford, won impressively. The five-year-old had impressed in the paddock and was given a good ride by Gavin Sheehan, taking the lead two from home. The duo beat Sheena West’s Cannon Fodder by 12 lengths.

Rosa Imperialis with jockey Gavin Sheehan and trainer Robert Walford  Photo: Jeannie Knight

Rosa Imperialis with jockey Gavin Sheehan and trainer Robert Walford Photo: Jeannie Knight

Robert Walford said: ” She did that well and it is a welcome victory- I’ve had too many second places recently. I’m pleased with the way she has won that.”  He has around 16 horses in training at the moment- with Carole’s Spirit another progressive mare, which has won for him recently.

The final race of the day, a conditional jockey’s handicap hurdle race, made the long journey from Cowbridge in Wales worthwhile for trainer Tim Vaughan.  He sent out Benability at 5-1, with Connor Walsh in the saddle to win by four and a half lengths.

The next meeting at Fontwell Park is on Sunday January 18.

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