Focus on Fontwell: Anniversaries celebrated - and a fun day ahead
It has been 92 years since Fontwell Park first opened its gates to the public '“ and the course remains one of the strongest small National Hunt courses in the country.
The inaugural race was won by the 5/4 favourite Gem, ridden by champion jockey Fred Rees, on May 21, 1924.
Alfred Day, the founder of Fontwell Park, started as a trainer, getting inexpensive horses to win good races. As time went by Day was able to buy more land in the area so that by 1924, he had obtained a license from the Jockey Club to create a racecourse at Fontwell.
Now, in 2016, Fontwell Park is the second-busiest jumps only course in the country with 24 meetings a year, beaten only by Uttoxeter with 25.
The anniversary of Fontwell Park’s founding was not the only impressive one marked at the track in recent days.
Head groundsman Paul Mant has celebrated 35 years of work there without a single day off sick. Paul started work in 1981 with dad Roger, who was head groundsman at that time.
Roger worked at Fontwell for 44 years and Paul took over the title role in 2002 when his father retired. Paul says he is aiming for at least 50 years before he thinks of retiring.
The jumps season has finished and Tom Cannon kept his crown as Fontwell’s top jockey for a third consecutive year.
The contest went down to the wire with Noel Fehily. Both had eight wins, but Cannon managed more second and third places to secure his position as No1.
A very impressive season for Sussex trainer Gary Moore saw him confirmed as the course’s top trainer with 13 wins.
Last time Moore managed to secure the No1 spot was in 2012-13 season – since then has twice been second to Chris Gordon, who finished third this year.
Fontwell’s popular family fun day returns this Sunday (May 29). It’s a great day out for the whole family with a full programme of jump racing – plus entertainment including a mini-zoo, a large fun fair, laser quest, an 85ft inflatable assault course, a bouncy castle, pony rides, zorbing and face painting, all of which is free.
Under-18s go free and adults pay only £12 if they book before Saturday.
After this meeting there are only two midweek fixtures in June to get your jump-racing fix at Fontwell before the summer break.
These are on Wednesday, June 1 and Tuesday 7, the latter named as a Farmers’ Market Raceday.
Visit www.fontwellpark.co.uk and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.
Fontwell Park marketing manager
Sports editor Steve Bone’s tips for Sunday: 1.50 Fountains Windfall, 2.20 La Madonnina, 2.50 Highbury High, 3.25 Osgood, 3.55 Saint Roque, 4.30 Leaderofthedance, 5.00 Killabraher Cross, 5.30 Lady From Geneva.
Get your Chichester Observer newspaper for just 38p per week for a year!
Your Chichester Observer newspaper costs £1.05 each week - BUT if you buy a year’s subscription before June 4, 2016, you can enjoy a massive saving which works out at just 38p an edition.
Subscribe and read your favourite weekly, the Chichester, or Bognor Regis, or Midhurst & Petworth Observer, for 12 months for a one off advance payment of £19.76 - that works out at just 38p a copy for an entire year!
And as a valued subscriber you’ll continue to receive a 20% discount even after the initial 12 month offer has ended.
Once you’ve subscribed we’ll send you dated coupons to use instead of cash when paying for your Observer.
To take advantage of this fantastic offer simply click here and enter the offer code - 277PA-CCO.
Terms & Conditions: Offer valid to new customers only when paying by a one off direct debit charge of £19.76. Minimum 12 months subscription. Offer ends Saturday 4th June 2016. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.