Fontwell Park’s richest raceday of the year was a big success as a crowd of 3,000 enjoyed a chilly afternoon dominated by top trainer Paul Nicholls.
The ten-time champion National Hunt trainer took the £80,000 feature race, the totepool National Spirit Hurdle, with Old Guard, a horse part-owned by TV’s Jeremy Kyle. With Harry Cobden riding, Old Guard beat 2016 winner Lil Rockerfeller in a fine contest. The winner is now set for a tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle at March’s Cheltenham Festival.
Racing got under way with just two horses contesting the toteplacepot Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase as Harry Fry and Noel Fehily teamed up with Space Oddity and Nicholls’ Copain De Classe was ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. Fehily was unseated early on, meaning Twiston-Davies had only to guide his horse safely over the fences to pick up the full prize pot on the 4/6 favourite and give Nicholls his first winner of what turned out to be a very fruitful day.
The pair also landed the totequadpot Handicap Chase as The Last But One (5/2 fav) saw off Cap Horner and long-time leader Spock.
In the feature, talented young jockey Cobden steered Old Guard to victory for a Nicholls treble, to the delight of Kyle and fellow owners the Brooks and Stewart families. Old Guard showed class in abundance as he held off Lil Rockerfeller by a length and a half, with Air Horse One 11 lengths back in third.
Oliver Sherwood and Leighton Aspell teamed up to beat the favourite Niblawi and land the spoils with Jersey Bean in the totepool Supporting The Racehorse Sanctuary Novices’ Hurdle. The totepool Betting At totesport.com Open Hunters’ Chase brought more success for Nicholls as 4/11 favourite Unioniste gave Nicholls his fourth winner of the day in emphatic style, leaving 22 lengths between second-placed Real Milan.
Cobden completed a double in the totetrifecta Handicap Hurdle to give Colin Tizzard a winner with Quiz Master (4/1). The Collect totepool Winnings At Betfred Shops Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race, went to Gary Moore and his son Jamie with joint-favourite The Flying Sofa (13/8 joint fav).
Fontwell Park marketing manager Tracey Shaw said: “We were so lucky with the weather and had a great crowd in attendance. Who would have thought we would see Paul Nicholls chalking up four wins in real style? It was an incredibly exciting day of racing.”
Next up at Fontwell Park is an afternoon jumps card next Wednesday.