Fontwell are ready for richest race of year

Prospect Wells, jockey Daryl Jacob and trainer Paul Nicholls, right, after winning the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in 2013. Picture: Fontwell Park
Prospect Wells, jockey Daryl Jacob and trainer Paul Nicholls, right, after winning the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in 2013. Picture: Fontwell Park

Fontwell Park stages its most prestigious race of the year this Sunday, the National Spirit Hurdle, with a total prize fund of £50,000, writes the track’s marketing manager George Hill.

The two-and-a-half-mile event attracts some of the top hurdlers and is renowned as a trial for the Cheltenham Festival, with some previous noteworthy winners include Baracouda, My Way de Solzen and Lough Derg.

This year’s ten entries include some quality campaigners, two from the former champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ yard.

This year’s charge is headed by a Cheltenham Festival winner from last season, Salubrious.

The seven-year-old Beneficial gelding, who was born on the day of the race, February 23, also holds an entry for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and his recent form looks very positive.

The second of the Nicholls’ runners is the French-bred five-year-old Saphir Du Rheu.

Successful on his last three starts, owned by the Stewart family, he also shares an entry with Big Bucks in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Nicholls won last year’s National Spirit Hurdle when Prospect Wells triumphed under Daryl Jacob.

Wiltshire-based trainer Alan King also has two horses entered – Medinas and Meister Eckhart. Both horses gave King a one-two in the Coral Cup at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, with Medinas just getting the better of his stable companion.

Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton will partner Meister Eckhart, while Wayne Hutchinson takes the ride on Medinas.

Donald McCain aims to run Ubaltique although he does hold an entry at Newcastle on Saturday. The six-year-old has won four races including his last two starts and all have come on soft/heavy ground, so he should have no problem with Sunday’s predicted ground conditions.

The remaining six entries include runners from local trainers Chris Gordon and Gary Moore.

Also featuring on the card, is a race in memory of a very special and local trainer, the Josh Gifford Novice Chase, with prize money of £20,000 and boasting 12 strong entries.

Racegoers on the day will be treated to a whole host of entertainment.

Gates open from 11.30am with the first of seven races at 2.10pm.

For more information, visit www.fontwellpark.co.uk or call 01243 543335.

Watch out for tips for Sunday’s meeting on this website