I have spent time in both Chichester and Arundel and they are both nice places to be.
Fontwell Park Racecourse
Fontwell Park Racecourse stages only National Hunt Racing on turf.
The hurdle course is left handed, oval and sharp. The exit to the stables is halfway up the run-in on the hurdles course and can lead to horses idling or trying to duck out once seeing it. The hurdles differ in terms of their location, from inner to outer, though those runners who race widest on testing ground are always at an advantage.
The chase course is a figure of eight circuit which by it’s nature does not suit galloping types. The fences are easy but the stiff finish is particularly testing on heavy ground and races often develop a fair way out and the lead rarely changes hands on the run in.
There are two enclosures at Fontwell. They are The Premier Enclosure and The Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure. On some quieter race days, the two are combined into the one larger enclosure. The dress code for The Premier Enclosure is Smart Casual including a collared shirt. There is no strict dress code in the Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure.
The racecourse list three restaurants on their website as follows:
There is plenty of other options. Personally, I had pie and chips from the Premier Food and it was both plentiful, nice and reasonably priced at £6
The area behind the stands and around the parade ring are very spacious and well kept
This is just a nice racecourse, very friendly and courteous.
It’s been years since I’ve been here at this lovely racecourse in an equally lovely part of our country.
Just like my pal @genuinetriers, I felt the booking of Richard Johnson on My Brother in the opening Handicap Hurdle may just have been a hint that he was expected to run well. I remember him running at Perth when making his Hurdles debut and he was fancied but ran rather underwhelmingly. Today was the same. Never in the race but thankfully ran on past beaten horses to finish fourth and give me a miniscule profit.
The second race is a Class 5 Maiden Hurdle over 2m 1 1/2f and my eye is drawn to Pardon Me, trained my Seamus Mullins and ridden by Jeremiah McGrath. Last time out, finished down the field in a better race than this at Wincanton over just under 2m. Struggled to go the early pace but made same headway late in the race without threatening. Prior to that finished a well beaten third in a Class 4 here at Fontwell behind a couple of progressive sorts. Todays much easier company should give him a chance. The likely favourite is So Lonely who is today having her 2nd start for Dan Skelton since arriving from Ireland and has room for improvement though was beaten a long way on her first start for the stable at Newbury four weeks ago. I’m happy enough to take 7/2 about Pardon Me tonight knowing that I have guaranteed odds and will look more closely at the Betfair place odds tomorrow when the markets have formed properly.
Pardon Me ran just off the lead for a circuit and a half and was starting to come under pressure when coming down four out. So Lonely looked the likely winner turning for home but had to give second best to comfortable winner Millarville.
Umndeni who finished over 20 lengths in front of So Lonely that day at Newbury runs later on today’s card in the fourth race, also a Maiden Hurdle but over the slightly longer 2m 3f. Trained by Phillip Hobbs and ridden by the Champion, he looks the likely winner though odds (8/11) at the time of writing (night before) are too short for his chance though perhaps a big run from So Lonely will shorten this again. I see Dan Skelton trains the likely 2nd favourite in this race. I’d Better Go Now will be making it’s debut over obstacles having run once, respectably, in a bumper at the end of 2017 when trained by Charlie Longsdon. Hard to know how ready he will be but Dan Skelton should have some idea of where he stands with the current favourite. I will wait until on the day and see what the market does!
My decision regarding the fourth race and in particular Umndeni is made when the second in ‘that’ Newbury race is also turned over at Ffos Las. I am now backing the Skelton horse. Currently just 11/2 on the book, I get 12.5 for the win and 1.86 for four places on Betfair. My cause was helped when Umndeni unshipped his jockey as the race started though all in vain. I’d Better Go Now travelled in mid-division the whole way around and when the pace quickened coming out of the back straight, he didn’t find anything until eventually running on to finish fifth. The four in front were 66/1, 40/1, 100/1 & 16/1 respectively. I think he will win races soon enough though.
That’s me done for the day, it’s time for a pint at the hotel and some form study for Lingfield Park tomorrow.