Kings wants to rule at Fontwell’s National Spirit Hurdle

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Excitement is building at the quality of the field expected for Fontwell Park’s richest race of the year.

Excitement is building at the quality of the field expected for Fontwell Park’s richest race of the year.

Trainer Alan King says his top-class hurdler/chaser Bensalem is a possible for the National Spirit Hurdle on Sunday, February 27.

The eight-year-old fell two fences from home in the William Hill Trophy at last year’s Cheltenham Festival when holding every chance of winning.

The Observer has already revealed Celestial Halo, runner-up in the 2009 Champion Hurdle, will have his next race in Fontwell’s big one, which is sponsored by totesport.com.

Ultra-tough Lough Derg, who took the National Spirit prize in 2008 and 2009 for trainer David Pipe and owner Bill Frewen, is also heading back for another bid.

Fontwell Park general manager Phil Bell said: “The totesport.com National Spirit Hurdle is looking promising in terms of quality with Celestial Halo, Lough Derg and Bensalem all being aimed at the race.”

The meeting will feature a chance for race-goers to ‘meet a racehorse’. Two former racers from the Racehorse Sanctuary, the day’s charity, will be at the course for people to see what life can be like for a racehorse following retirement.

Also planned is a Jockeys’ Mastermind in the winners’ enclosure before the first race, a parade of hounds, a display by birds of prey and a jockeys’ autograph session.

After that meeting comes Fontwell’s Cheltenham preview double-bill on March 8 and 9, when a panel of racing experts will guide race-goers through the festival line-up.

Anyone interested should call Fontwell on 01243 543335 or go to www.fontwellpark.co.uk

Last Sunday, more than 2,000 poured through the gates for the venue’s first family race day of 2011. There were two wins for Sussex father-and-son pairing Gary and Jamie Moore and one for Findon’s Nick Gifford.