Fontwell racegoers have seen one inspiring tale of a racing character - now they are set to witness another.
At the track’s most recent meeting, punters watched former jockey and trainer Chris Kinane complete a remarkable walk around the parade ring.
Chris was badly injured by a kick to the head from a horse at Wolverhampton in 2005.
It has been a long, hard road through his gradual recovery but last week the 55-year-old returned to his local track to walk around the parade ring to raise money for a hydrotherapy pool at the Injured Jockeys’ Fund’s rehabilitation centre in Yorkshire.
After his catastrophic loss of mobility, the walk required a massive effort.
Chris received a fabulous reception during and at the end of the mission.
Track general manager Tracy Skinner said: “We’re delighted to have been the venue for Chris’ Parade Ring walk on Wednesday, raising money for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund. It is such an amazing achievement and took a tremendous amount of courage to attempt.”
The afternoon’s racing saw a treble for Tony McCoy.
Now Fontwell is preparing to host another inspirational racing character - or, to be more precise, two: in the form of the rising star of jump racing, Hunt Ball, and his owner Anthony Knott.
Racegoers with the surname Hunt or Ball will be allowed free admission next Friday as Fontwell joins forces with bookmakers Paddy Power to mark the success of Hunt Ball, whose rating rose from 69 to 157 in the last jump season, which included a victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
Hunt Ball began his winning spree in a novices’ handicap chase at Folkestone in November 2011. Over the next four months, he won seven of nine starts including the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He finished the season with third place in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree.
The Friday, November 9 race day at Fontwell Park will feature a number of events to celebrate Hunt Ball’s achievements so far, with scarves in the racehorse colours, a parade by the horse himself and interviews with owner Anthony Knott and trainer Keiran Burke.
Hunt Ball’s owner is Somerset-based Knott, a farmer from Sturminster Newton who also owns 260 cattle. He stole the limelight himself having famously jumped aboard Hunt Ball in the winner’s enclosure after his win at Wincanton in January.
Having bought Hunt Ball for ‘the price of a second hand car’, he has now won over £73,000 in prize money.
Mandy Austen, senior commercial executive at Fontwell Park, masterminded the idea of the Hunt Ball Race Day having enjoyed watching the spectacular rise of the gelding and his owner.
She said: “I first saw Anthony on TV in November 2008 when he rode his first winner at Wincanton at the age of 44. This feat was unusual in itself, but watching him in the final moments of the race celebrating and cheering, really stuck in my mind.
“Then, he came to Fontwell in December last year when Hunt Ball won the second of his seven races. I have followed their fortunes ever since.”
Grandstand & Paddock tickets for this fixture are £10 if booked by next Thursday. Call 01243 543335 or go to www.fontwellpark.co.uk