In-form champion jockey Richard Johnson grabbed a treble as.sunny Fontwell Park hosted a seven-race National-Hunt race card.
The action began with the Class 5 hensbylaw.co.uk Local Solicitors Simply The Best Handicap Hurdle over 2m5.5f,in which Seamus Mullins’ Fenlons Court moved smoothly into the lead with three to jump and was driven out up the hill to score by three lengths under Daniel Samsom’s 5lb claim at 9/2.
Johnson rode to his first victory in the Class 4 Intandem Entente Cordiale Handicap Steeple Chase, contested over 2m1.5f, but not without being made to work hard. Philip Hobbs’ New Millennium established a good 20-length lead over the field. He failed to jump a single fence convincingly and his pilot did an amazing job of sitting tight as he was almost unseated on a few occasions, before powering up the run-in to a four-length victory as 5/4 fav.
The champion jockey was perhaps unlucky not to strike again in the feature race, the Class 3 Rob It’s On Alfresco Clarke Handicap Hurdle, having come from mid-division to stay on strongly after the last - but Wind Place And Sho came up 2.5 lengths short at the end of the 2m3f race, beaten by the in-form Neil King’s even-money favourite Canyon City under a superb ride from Bryony Frost.
The 2m5.5f Class 4 ROA/Racing Post Owners’ Jackpot Handicap Steeple Chase, saw Johnson make it two for the day – also giving Colin Tizzard his first of a track double – with a six-length victory for 5/2 chance Never Learn. Heading towards three out it looked all but lost as the seven-year-old looked under pressure, but another great ride sealed the victory.
Unsurprisingly, when Johnson and Tizzard teamed up in the Class 5 2m3f Andy Thesaurus Musselwhite Maiden Hurdle, Darlac (tipped on this website) was heavily backed and justified the support making all and cruising to a 17-length win at 10/11, completing the jockey’s treble and the trainer’s double.
The Class 5 Brian Skinner’s 82nd Birthday Handicap Steeple Chase, over 3m2f, saw both the widest and easiest winning-margin of the day as the Charlie Mann-trained Morney Wing was eased to a 24-length victory at 3/1 under Joshua Moore.
The Class 5 1m5.5f contest, The Patrick It’s In The Order Murphy Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, went to Jeremy Scott and Nick Scholfield with the 8/1 Kissesforkatie, who picked up the lead with three furlongs left to travel and stayed on strongly to score by three lengths.
Autumn afternoon racing returns to the West Sussex track on Friday, November 9 – with the first race going to post at 1.30pm.