Fontwell October festival preview and Friday tips

There are 14 races in two days at Fontwell's October Festival  Picture by Ciaran McCrickard / Connors
There are 14 races in two days at Fontwell's October Festival Picture by Ciaran McCrickard / Connors

OUR October Festival is back for a third year today (Friday) and tomorrow and everything’s set for what should be an action-packed couple of days, writes Fontwell Park general manager Tracy Skinner.

If all goes to plan, more than 9,000 people will join us across the two days.

Prize money for the festival is just over £100,000 and we are confident of good-quality and quantity fields.

Friday is Fullers London Pride Raceday and Fullers have a race named in their honour – the Fuller’s London Pride Handicap Chase at 3.50pm.

We were delighted to see more than 100 entries across seven races ahead of final declarations, which then became a total of 67 declared runners in total.

Then comes Super Irish Saturday, backed by Southern Water, and we had even more entries for day two – 123 at the five-day stage on Monday.

We have live music from The Stars of The Commitments after racing.

Many top trainers and owners were represented among those entries, which was great to see.

Fontwell first staged these back-to-back meetings in 2011 and we feel the festival is beginning to establish itself in the annual plans of top jump-racing trainers and owners.

Plans for the festival are in their final stages now and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone.

If the weather is kind, we’d hope to see something like 3,500 people through the gates on Friday and 5,500 or up towards 6,000 on the second day. If we can total 9,000, we’ll be happy.

Our Premier restaurant and hospitality boxes sold out a while ago for both days, but that still left us with space in the Paddock restaurant.

Fullers have stepped up their involvement this year and there’ll be plenty of their beers on offer as well as steak and ale pies, while Super Irish Saturday will see more than a few pints of Guinness pulled.

It’s been nice to have a few weeks between our last race meeting and the festival to get the site properly prepared.

But this marks the start of a busy time for us, with a total of eight fixtures to come between now and the year’s end.

I do hope many of you will come and enjoy the action.

Observer sports editor Steve Bone’s tips for Friday: 2.10 Alanjou, 2.40 Kings Lodge, 3.15 Hi Note, 3.50 King Edmund, 4.25 Theologist, 5.00 Font, 5.30 Kings Palace.