Friday’s a big day at Fontwell Park as we welcome the rising star of jump racing, Hunt Ball - writes Fontwell Park general manager Tracy Skinner.
He had a phenomenal rise up the ratings - from 69 to 157 - last season and is due to run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham at the end of next week.
But first he’s coming here, and I’m sure there’ll be a big crowd here to see him.
We’re calling Friday’s meeting the Hunt Ball Race Dday and we believe it’s the first time any course has devoted a whole day to one racehorse.
We’ll be parading him before racing and we’ll have interviews with connections including his colourful owner, Anthony Knott.
Matt Chapman, from At The Races, will be here to present the day, which will also include us showing highlights of Hunt Ball’s career to date on our screens.
In addition, anyone with the surname Hunt or Ball - and with proof of it - can get in free.
Mandy Austen, our senior commercial executive, masterminded the idea of the Hunt Ball day having enjoyed watching the spectacular rise of the gelding and his owner.
We’ve had a decent number of entries for our seven races on the day and are confident the going, which was soft to heavy on Tuesday, will have settled by the time we race.
It’s the first of a number of big days we have between now and the end of the year.
On Sunday, November 18, we have the Southern National, one of our biggest two races of the year, and we’re doubling it up with a festive food and drink fair in one of our marquees.
The other huge fixture, of course, is on Boxing Day, when we’re hoping for a crowd similar in size to last year’s bumper attendance of 8,000.
The phones are going mad now with people wanting to book their place for Boxing Day. I think they’re a mixture of people who came last year and others who heard about how much fun it was.
Now we’re into November, more and more people are planning what they’re doing over Christmas - and happily, Fontwell seems to be on the agenda for many locally.
We’re currently offering annual membership at Fontwell Park for 2013 for just £199. That price will go up on December 11 and if you buy now, you’ll also get into this year’s remaining fixtures.
We feel that’s very good value - we have 24 fixtures again next year so if you work it out per meeting, it’s pretty cheap.
- Tracy Skinner
Observer sports editor Steve Bone’s Fontwell tips for Friday: 1.10 Lord of the Dunes, 1.40 Annimation, 2.10 Jive Master, 2.40 Venetian Lad, 3.10 Destined for Fame, 3.40 Rash Moment, 4.10 Before All.
Read Tracy Skinner’s Focus on Fontwell in the Observer every month