Cheers! Oktoberfest is a winner at Fontwell

BOSSES at Fontwell Park are raising a beer glass to the success of their Oktoberfest.
Action in the sunshine at Oktoberfest / Picture by Clive BennettAction in the sunshine at Oktoberfest / Picture by Clive Bennett
Action in the sunshine at Oktoberfest / Picture by Clive Bennett

Two days of racing in lovely autumn weather, complemented by a wide range of off-track fun, much of it German-themed, gave the racecourse one of its highlights of the season.

Well over 5,000 race-goers poured through the gates over Friday and Saturday to enjoy some absorbing jump racing and plenty more.

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Fontwell executive director Simon Williams said: “Our inaugural Oktoberfest was a fantastic weekend enjoyed by the huge crowds.

“Saturday saw over 4,500 racegoers where many stayed to watch the Madness tribute, Los Palmas 6. The only way the day could have finished better was for England to have beat Australia in the Rugby World Cup, but it wasn’t to be.

“Safe to say the Oktoberfest theme was clearly popular and provided an excellent setting to enjoy the fantastic horse-racing on offer and we will certainly look to make this an annual event.

“On Friday, it was great to see Jockey and Trainer Brothers Harry and Dan Skelton get a fantastic double, including winning the Fuller’s London Pride feature race of the day for the second year running with the same horse Workbench.

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“We are looking forward to our next race day now, sponsored by ABP Port of Southampton on Wednesday, October 21.”

The Skeltons celebrated feature-race glory on their way to double joy at the festival.

Trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry Skelton teamed up for a successful defence of the Fuller’s London Pride Handicap Chase title with Workbench on Friday.

The triumph, which earned them a top prize of almost £12,000, was quickly followed by victory for hurdler Sir Mangan as the duo made it another festival to remember.

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Defending champion Workbench was sent off at 3/1 for the feature race on day one of the meeting.

But after favourite Chris Pea Green, who hails from the West Sussex yard of Gary Moore, had unseated jockey Joshua Moore, the seven-year-old son of Network took command.

He led at the second from home before stretching his lead to four lengths by the final fence and Workbench, rated 128, stayed on up the hill to beat Purple’n’Gold by eight lengths and retain his crown.

Sir Mangan won the next race – the James Todd Chartered Accountants Handicap Hurdle – also at 3/1.

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Alan King’s flat recruit Oceane had made a successful debut over timber with a 4/6 success in the opening race of the festival – the Chancellor of The FormChecker Juvenile Maiden Hurdle.

Danimix won the West Sussex Van Centre Supplies Winner Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase at evens, while the Nicola Coy Appreciation Society Breakthrough Handicap Hurdle went to 5/6-favourite Shear Rock.

Henryville capped an exciting first day by beating his only rival in the Southern Water Charity Race Day Tomorrow Novices’ Chase for a 1/9 triumph.

Saturday’s action began with the MTS Cleansing Services Supporting Rockinghorse Novices’ Hurdle, which went to Mercers Court at 7/4.

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The Moores got off the mark with 7/2-shot Vikekhal in the BTU Supporting The Rainbow Centre Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

After Eight Sivola took the Clancy Docwra Supporting Rockinghorse Childrens Charity Handicap Hurdle at 6/1, while there were also wins for Top Cat Henry (15/8f) Tokyo Javilex (11/4f), Tribal Dance (4/1) and Jennifer Eccles (7/2).

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