A TRIO of Sussex trainers tasted victory as Fontwell Park signed off for its two-month summer break on a wet, unseasonal afternoon of jump racing.
Gary Moore, Alison Batchelor and Lydia Richards all put knowledge of one of their local tracks to good use to record victories in a marathon eight-race card that was hit by drizzle and grey skies that kept plenty of punters away.
Matching the weather was the sombre mood felt across horse racing after news broke of the death of legendary trainer Sir Henry Cecil at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer.
Jockeys at Fontwell were among those across the country paying tribute to Frankel’s trainer by wearing black armbands for racing. There was also a minute’s silence in the paddock before the action started.
Horsham-based Moore teamed up with jockey son Jamie for a 7/1 success with Lajidaal in the Eazylay Flooring & Beds West sussex Handicap Steeple Chase, a seven-length win over 2/1 favourite Celtic Intrigue.
Batchelor, who operates out of Petworth, is owner and trainer of Border Station, who took the Dave Bradley True Blue 60th Memorial Novices’ Handicap Hurdle with Mark Quinlan on board at 6/1, holding off a strong challenge up the final straight from Kielan Woods on Pampelonne.
Afterwards Batchelor admitted she’d not had the best of times at her local track recently - but said she hoped Border Station’s win might be the sign of better things to come.
Funtington-based Richards’ success came in the last, the 32Red.com Handicap Chase, when Inner Steel, ridden by Paddy Brennan, came in at 5/1 for a commanding 14-length win.
The opening race, the bet-n-tip.com Handicap Steeple Chase, saw AP McCoy return to the top of the champion jockey rankings with a win on Synthe Davis (5/1) for trainer Laura Mongan. But McCoy was out of luck with three other rides.
Fontwell specialists Tim Vaughan and Richard Johnson joined forces to good effect in the 3663 First for Food Services Novices’ Hurdle as Experimentalist won from Luci de Mezzanotte.
The Charlie Longsdon-trained Dom Lukka triumphed in the 32Red Handicap Steeple Chase after going off at 5/1.
That race saw a nasty fall for Aiden Coleman on Bring It On Home which left both horse and rider needing lengthy medical attention.
The Platinum Lace Gentleman’s Club Brighton Handicap Hurdle was split into two divisions. The first went to Dougie Costello on Realta Mo Crio, trained by Fontwell regular Neil Mulholland, after being very well-backed to go off the 4/1 joint favourite, while the second was taken by 9/2 chance Marie Deja La, ridden by Marc Goldstein for Winchester’s Chris Gordon and tipped for victory on this website this morning.
Fontwell now takes a break from racing until Thursday, August 15, when the action resumes on Ladies’ Night.
The next local racing action is at Goodwood on Friday evening, when a six-race card precedes music with Andy Cato from Groove Armada.
We’ll have all the racing action in the Observer on Thursday and more on this website on Friday. including our Goodwood tips.