Fontwell Park’s two-day October Festival coming up

Fontwell Park Racecourse is one of the most popular National Hunt racecourses in the South of England, located in the village of Fontwell, West Sussex, where it is now owned by ARC Racing.

The oval racing track, over jumps, has good viewing facilities and also has an interesting history- as well as good jump racing coming up.

Highly competitive jump racing at Fontwell Park
Phoro: Jeannie Knight

It was founded by Alfred Day, who trained racehorses at The Hermitage, by the Chichester to Arundel road, from 1887. Day brought the name Fontwell back into use after researching the history of the area, and by 1924 he had purchased enough land to open a racecourse there.

The hurdles track was a normal shape, but the steeplechase course was laid out in a figure of eight shape to use the space on the site. The first meeting took place on 21 May 1924. The grandstand and the weighing room were built with thatched roofs. The opening race was won by the 5/4 favourite Gem, ridden by jockey Fred Rees.

It was the course where Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, had her first winner as an owner when Monaveen won the Chichester Handicap Chase there in October 1949.

In 1984 John Francome rode his 1,036th career winner at Fontwell Park, passing Stan Mellors record for a National Hunt jockey – Francome’s record has subsequently been beaten.

The feature race of the season at Fontwell Park is the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle run over a distance of two miles and four furlongs in February. It is  has such standing that it is a recognised Cheltenham Festival trial.

Previous National Spirit Hurdle winner Lil-Rockerfella, trained by Neil King and ridden by Trevor Whelan. Photo: Jeannie Knight

.Fontwell Park remains a popular and well-maintained track, attracting racegoers from a wide area with some competitive and often exciting jump racing over both hurdles and fences.

There is the chance to watch racing at close quarters in the centre of the course, from the rails or one of the grandstand areas at the track.

The next meeting there is a two-day October Fest meeting on Friday October 4 and Saturday October 5- with more fixtures to follow in every month through until the end of the season in June. The new season will start on August 2.

For more information see: https://www.fontwellpark.co.uk/

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