Flat trainer Sir Mark Prescott paid a nostalgic visit to Fontwell Park yesterday to run an extremely well-bred four-year-old filly by Sea The Stars in the bumper race at the end of the card. Named Sea Pride, she was making her racecourse debut in the Flat race.
In 1966 he had ridden Propellant Miss to win a hurdle race there for trainer Cecil Stone and he had fond memories of the Sussex racecourse. In fact it was also a trip down memory lane for the two people accompanying him – Alison West ( his travelling head girl) and Val Griffiths ( racing manager to Bluehills Racing Ltd which owns Sea Pride).
Sir Mark had visited The Old Racecourse at Lewes on his way to Fontwell, and met recently retired trainer Gerry Enright and his wife, Midge, who still live there, as part of this nostalgic journey. Sir Mark told Gerry he rode in the second last race on the final day of racing at Lewes racecourse in September 1964.
Also Alison West, his travelling head girl is Lewes born and bred and was involved in racing at Lewes and had also ridden at Fontwell Park. She said the access and horse box had changed greatly- their box driver had initially gone into the adjoining pub car park by mistake!
Val Griffiths also had Lewes links and was secretary to Lewes trainer Auriol Sinclair when Gerry was apprenticed to Gordon Smythe there.
Sir Mark said: “I have fond memories of Fontwell Park. The paddock was in a different place and the stables were near the road in those days. It has been interesting to come back.”
He described the filly as ‘enormous’ but she is bred for success on the Flat, out of Claxon and half-sister to two excellent winners. She was not broken until she was three and was too backward to run last year on the level as a three-year-old.
Micheal Nolan was in the saddle for the ride, giving her a first taste of racing which she handled well, finishing third, beaten only in the final furlong and finishing ahead of some previous bumper winners.
The race was won by Nicky Henderson’s Chapel Hall, odds-on favourite, which had previously finished third in a similar race.