Fontwell hoping for the luck of the Irish

AFTER four abandonments in five attempts to get racing on this year, Fontwell officials must hope the luck of the Irish will be with them on Saturday.

Action from Fontwell Park earlier this year       Picture by Clive Bennett
Action from Fontwell Park earlier this year Picture by Clive Bennett

And the chances are it will be - for there seems nothing in the weather forecast between now and the weekend that will threaten the track’s St Patrick’s Day race day.

At the end of a week in which everyone in racing is consumed by the Cheltenham Festival, Fontwell bosses will be pleased to see some attention turn to them for what will be their second meeting of 2014 instead of their sixth, as it should have been.

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Seven races are planned and the action begins at 1.55pm with the EBF Stallions Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle, which has attracted 15 entries including the Nicky Henderson-trained pair Playhara and Tiller Belle, plus Paul Nicholls’ Pressies Girl.

The largest number of entries – ahead of Friday morning’s final declarations – is 22 for the Cutmill Handicap Hurdle, which is off at 4.15pm. Sussex-based Gary Moore has entered Auld Sthock and Golanova.

The RF Henderson Ltd Handicap Chase has attracted only six entries but will be an intriguing contest as long as most stay in. Leading entries include Venetia Williams’ Last Shot and Tim Vaughan’s Elsafeer.

Fontwell veterans Princely Hero and Venetian Lad are both in the frame for the Snow Goose Handicap Chase at 2.30 while 17 have been thrown into the mix for the Cobnor Handicap Hurdle.

The line-up is completed by the Barbour Handicap Chase, which has 16 entries, and the Thorney Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, which has 13 contenders ahead of the final cut.

A Fontwell spokesman said: “After a fascinating week at the Cheltenham Festival, we will keep the jumping action going with a fun-filled afternoon of racing and entertainment and race-goers can watch all the Six Nations rugby matches live in between racing.

“We’ll have a rugby simulator in the paddock enclosure for people to practice penalty kicks. There is live music from The Cracklin Griffins, playing all of your favourite traditional Irish tunes for an hour after the last race in the Premier bar.”

In advance, tickets start at £10 if they are pre-booked by 3pm on Friday, and kids under-18 go free.

For more or to book, call 01243 543335. See on Friday night for a preview and tips.