Jockeys David Bass and Leighton Aspell both had doubles in testing conditions at Fontwell Park’s well-supported Boxing Day meeting yesterday when there were some eventful races and many many runners failed to complete in the testing conditions.
The opening Southern Cranes and Access Ltd Juvenile Hurdle Race produced a good winner when Harley Rebel, trained by Neil Mulholland, owned and bred by Stephen and Gloria Seymour, was ridden to a well-deserved victory by 7lb claimer Shane Quinlan.
Mr and Mrs Seymour had bred the horse, were there when the Cockney Rebel gelding were born. Mrs Seymour said: “We’re delighted. We had been waiting for the right race and he ran so well that there should be more to come.”
The horse won comfortably by nine lengths from Gary Moore’s Searching, ridden by son Joshua, which finished a well-beaten second.
The second race, a 2m1f handicap chase, was won Showboater, trained by Ben Pauling, under a great ride from David Bass. who was the only finisher. The six-year-old stayed clear of mayem after Highbury High was unseated early in the race and went on to create havoc when running loose for the remainder of the race. In the chaos Youm Jamil unseated his rider and Tea Caddy fell at the second last, while Too High For Me was pulled up.
The testing conditions had their impact in the Mares Novice Hurdle where there were just four runners.The highly eventful 2m1f handicap chase at Fontwell is won by Showboater, who was the only finisher.
Jockey Leighton Aspell was in control throughout on board Oliver Sherwood’s smart four-year-old The Organist (1-7 favourite) which finished 28 length clear of trainer Ben Pauling’s Cassie with David Bass in the saddle, which was in turn 45 lengths clear of the remaining two runners.
The Winterfields Farm Handicap Hurdle attracted a competitive field of nine runners and a sparkling performance from Nick Gifford’s Prouts Pub back over hurdles, following two poor runs over fences.
The six-year-old was ridden to a fluent 10-1 victory by Leighton Aspell, delighting the Nick Gifford Racing Club. He took the lead two from home and went on to win by 16 lengths fom Mick Channon’s Needless Shouting.
Nick Gifford was represented by his wife Ruth, who said: ” He won that so well. We sent him chasing this season after he had won and been placed over hurdles because he had schooled so well over larger obstacles at home. But he didn’t seem to enjoy it. He had two bad runs over fences, so we switched him back to hurdles and he clearly enjoyed it today.”
Permit holder David Weston, who is based near Marlborough, was delighted with the performance of his home-bred bay mare At First Light, owned by Elle Tanner, in the Mares Handicap Hurdle Race, where she won by three-quarters of a length , ridden by David Bass, beating good hurdler Tambura of a length. He said: This mare goes on any ground. We have been patient with her and this was her fourth win over hurdles.”
Only two of the six runners completed in the Handicap Steeplechase over three miles one and a half furlong chase, with Call The Detective, trained by Ali Stronge at Eastbury ridden by Felix De Giles coming home 27 lengths clear of the only other finisher, Brendan Powell’s Lady From Geneva ridden by Leighton Aspell.
The final Conditional Jockeys Handicap Race went to Michael Blake’s Hassadin, ridden by 3lb claimer Harry Cobden, with a six length victory over Chris Gordon’s Love’s Destination, ridden by 5lb claimer Lewis Gordon, with Gary Moore’s Torero in third with George Gorman (8lb) in the saddle.
The next meeting at Fontwell Park is on Sunday January 24 at 1pm with a seven-race card of winter afternoon racing.