The coldest March in 25 years wasn’t the best backdrop for Fontwell Park’s latest race meeting - but at least success for one of the sport’s best-known families warmed the hearts of race-goers.
With temperatures hovering just above freezing at the rather exposed track, cutting winds made it feel several degrees colder.
Undeterred by the bitter cold, hardy racegoers enjoyed an absorbing afternoon of racing.
The highlight came in the 3.40, the email@example.com Handicap Steeple Chase, won by Tom Scudamore on the 9/2 joint favourite Bounds and Leaps, trained by Michael Scudamore and owned by Mason Scudamore Racing - and tipped to win on this website.
She proved worthy of her name with an excellent display of jumping to finish ten lengths clear of nerarest rival Princely Hero, a regular Fontwell visitor.
Afterwards owner Marilyn Scudamore, mother of the winning jockey, said: “Having bred the jockey, trainer and horse you feel a huge amount of responsibility. It’s days like this you dream of when it all comes right.”
Racing opened well for punters with crowd favourite Loudmouth coming home to appropriately loud applause in the Winner Group Novices’ Hurdle at 5/2.
Race two, the totepool Novices’ Steeple Chase, was a foregone conclusion with 1/5 favourite Sustainability, ridden by Aidan Coleman, coming unchallenged across the line.
Betting without the favourite yielded to those backing Cool Cascade (20/1), whose late drive pipped One For The Boss for second place.
Following Sustainability’s success, another favourite - 10/11 shot Jupiter Rex, also tipped on this website - secured a double for owner Venetia Williams in the Platinum Lace Gentlemen’s Club Brighton Hands And Heels Handicap Hurdle.
The freezing winds pushed many indoors but race goers still filled the stands to watch as their horses thundered across the turf.
Following victory in the South Coast Skips Mares’ Maiden Hurdle for Iron Butterfly, ridden by Paul Moloney, trainer James Eustace spoke of his delight at the 2/1 contender’s performance.
He said: “Although she’s run well in her first two hurdles races, she’s been a bit too keen, but she’s a Shirocco and a lot of them like the ground. We are delighted to have a winner here.”
The heavy conditions did not seem to slow race six winner, Join The Navy and jockey Mark Grant. It was the eight-year-old runner’s second Fontwell win in three months.
Grant said: “It was a comfortable win. We were idling in front - he still had plenty more left in the tank.”
Trainer Kate Buckett added: “It was a very quick first half which is why they were all looking so tired. Normally I would say the wetter the better. This horse has done me proud.”
A slow start to the final race of the day showed many jockeys were still wary of the energy-sapping conditions, but early caution developed into a dramatic finale as Harry’s Farewell, ridden by Tom O’Brien for Polly Gundry, powered past race leader Cannon Fodder for the win. Watch some action from the race and the presentation afterwards in our video at the top of this story.
Racecourse ambassador Barbara Hogan summed up a cold day of racing, saying: “Despite the weather everyone has enjoyed themselves - they are all walking out with a smile on their face.”
Fontwell’s next meeting is on Thursday, April 11.
Get tips and reports for all Fontwell Park and Goodwood race meetings on this website