First Fontwell beat equine flu ban - now it has defied trainers' protest

Fontwell staff keep getting new challenges thrown at them this year – and keep getting racing on despite them.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 3:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 3:05 pm
Urca Da Lima on the way to victory in the Go Racing With The Coral Champions Club Novices' Hurdle / Picture by Nigel Bowles for Fontwell Park

First came the ban on British racing following an outbreak of equine flu. The ban was imposed a week before a Fontwell fixture, but was lifted in the nick of time for the meeting to go ahead.

Now Fontwell’s owners, the Arena Racing Company, are mixed up in a national dispute with trainers over prize money which has seen many yards boycott some ARC fixtures.

Fontwell has not been affected as badly as some ARC courses by the protest but did have reduced fields for last Wednesday’s racing. But staff were pleased to get the fixture on and some competitive racing staged.

The field in the Coral Double Your Cheltenham Winnings Every Day Handicap Chase / Picture by Nigel Bowles for Fontwell Park

ARC's view is that the prize money issue is an industry-wide one caused by less money being made available to racecourses.

Four of the races were won by the favourites, including Bredon Hill Lad (5/2), who won the Join The Coral Champions Club For Free Handicap Chase for jockey Lucy Gardner and trainer Sue Gardner.

Goodwood look far and wide for runnersNational Spirit Hurdle in picturesOther favourites to prevail were Captain Tommy, Urca Da Lima and Away For Slates. Acaro and Eglantier were the other victors on the day.

On Saturday of next week (March 16), Fontwell stages its annual St Patrick’s Day racing. Alongside an afternoon of jump racing, you can sup Guinness, listen to Irish music and watch the Six Nations action.

See or call 01243 543335 for more.