HORSHAM trainer Gary Moore won the Josh Gifford Memorial Novices Chase at Fontwell Park for the third successive year on Sunday- and champion trainer Paul Nicholls had to settle for second place for the third time in as many years.
Gary Moore’s previously won the Josh Gifford Trophy with Fruity O’ Rooney (2013) and Via Sundown (2014) and was delighted to take the trophy for a third time.Jockey Jamie Moore rode Leo Luna to a fine victory in the race as heavy rain, originally predicted for Sunday night, began to fall.
Despite the extremely testing conditions, Leo Luna, like stablemate Sire de Grugy when winning on Saturday, was foot perfect and fluent throughout and was never under pressure. He finished, 15 lengths clear of the Nicholls runner, 8-11 favourite Wilton Milan with Sam Twiston-Davies on board.
Miss Oscarose, a 14-1 shot trained by Paul Henderson ridden by Richard Johnson, finished 49 lengths further back in third place, while the only other runner, Richard Rowe’s Tang Royale was pulled up after three fences from home.
Despite heavy rain making conditions even more testing, 5-4 favourite The Kerry Man, which joined trainer David Bridgwater only recently, won the second race, a two mile six furlong handicap chase for the Certain Justice Challenge Trophy, under Tom Scudamore.
Time To Think had won this last year for trainer Seamus Mullins but could finish only a distant third, 64 lengths behind second placed Regal Flow, sent out by trainer Caroline Keevil and ridden by James Best. The fourth horse contesting this race, Herecomesthetruth was pulled up before the last when tailed off.
The 50th running of the National Spirit Hurdle saw only six runners go to post , with the odds-on favourite Silsol representing Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. Despite having won on heavy ground at Ffos Las at the end of January, Silsol was under pressure in the closing stages when 3-1 shot Kilcooley trained by Charlie Longsdon, stepped up the pace.
Under a well-judged ride Noel Fehily, this horse left Silsol unable to match him and the favourite finished almost three lengths back in second place, while third horse, Cannon Fodder trained at Lewes by Sheena West was 32 lengths further back in third place.
One horse which simply loved the ground at Fontwell was Whichwoods Brook, trained by Evan Williams and ridden by Adam Wedge. This winner of the valuable Peter Marsh Hurdle at Haydock in January last year put in a fine performance, making every inch of the running, to take the Novice Hurdle race over two miles six furlongs and first prize. He beat 2-4 favourite Rock The Kasbah, trained by Phillip Hobbs by four lengths with third-placed Princeton Royale at 10-1 a further 26 lengths back.
Only three went to the post in the Foxhunter Trial for the Whitelaw Challenge Cup over three miles two furlongs, headed by 1-3 favourite No Loose Change ridden by Mr James King and trained by Paul Nicholls. This horse had finished second only a few days earlier at Taunton but went on to give Paul Nicholls his only winner at the meeting. Second-placed Minella Theatre, trained by Alan Hill was ridden by amateur Joe Hill, son of trainer Lawney Hill, had led for most of the way . Lucia Akinci was on board Mrs Heather Kemp’s horse En Suite- but came to grief earlier in the race.
The winning Fontwell combination of trainer Chris Gordon, jockey Tom Cannon and Very Noble had the two mile two and a half furlong handicap hurdle handed them on a plate when Lucy Gardner on board Sirop De Menthe thought she still had a circuit to go when he would have been the certain winner.
The horse was still on the bridle and stewards at a subsequent inquiry ruled that she didn’t ride a finish enabling Tom Cannon to do so and win on Very Noble. Lucy Gardner is a capable rider and was mortified when she realised her error in the race distance. She received a 14 day ban from stewards.
Fontwell Park’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday March 4 when hopefully the rain will have stopped and the course dried out for what should be a good mid-week fixture with six races starting at 2.10pm. Gates open at 12.30pm. Don’t miss out an get discount by booking your tickets now at http://www.fontwellpark.co.uk/whats-on/fixtures/