Nostalgic celebration will mark Fontwell Park’s centenary

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Fontwell Park Racecourse is celebrating its centenary year with a street party themed Centenary Raceday on Thursday, May 16.

An afternoon and evening unlike any other, the Fontwell Park Centenary Raceday will be a nostalgic evening of jump racing, food, music and entertainment with a nod to the last 100 years of the West Sussex racecourse, from the 1920s up to the present day.

In addition to action on the track, a History of Fontwell marquee will be displaying memorabilia from the racecourse’s archive and providing an insight into its history.

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The Premier Lounge Restaurant, which boasts panoramic views of the race track, will be hosting a three-course Centenary Raceday Gala Dinner featuring guest speakers and a charity auction in aid of Racing Welfare and Dementia Support.

One of Fontwell Park's most recent winners in its 100 years of racing | Picture: Clive BennettOne of Fontwell Park's most recent winners in its 100 years of racing | Picture: Clive Bennett
One of Fontwell Park's most recent winners in its 100 years of racing | Picture: Clive Bennett

Guy Pridie, Executive Director at Fontwell Park, said: “It’s a real privilege to be leading the centenary celebrations for Fontwell Park. Being a local resident myself, I understand the importance and value of Fontwell being an accessible, local community business and we see this as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with as much of the community as possible.

“We’ve got a great balance of racing, history, music and entertainment taking place so there will be plenty of variety for everyone on the day. We are particularly excited for the opportunity to showcase some historic Fontwell memorabilia and to hear from some famous faces with ties to Fontwell over the years.”

Fontwell Park Racecourse founder Alfred Day first opened doors to the public on May 21, 1924, and today it boasts the only remaining figure of eight jumps course in the country.

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Over the years, Fontwell Park has welcomed members of the Royal Family. Most notably, Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) attended Fontwell Park in 1949 when her horse, Monaveen, the only horse she jointly owned with the Queen Mother, won the Chichester Handicap Chase – marking her first win as an owner.

In its 100-year history Fontwell has seen many Grand National, Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle winners run and win. Two dual Champion Hurdlers to win at Fontwell Park were National Spirit, after whom the biggest race is named, and Comedy Of Errors, who gives his name to one of the racecourse’s grandstands.

Some horses are particularly well suited to the unique figure-of-eight layout on the chase course, and this is why there have been remarkable course specialists over the years. The record holder is Certain Justice, who in the 1960s won 14 races here. In the nineties St Athans Lad won 11 times in just 14 months.

Centenary Raceday tickets are available to purchase from the Fontwell Park Racecourse website. A host of different packages are available and children attend for free.

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A special group rate of 10 tickets for £100 is available for the Centenary Raceday and individual tickets (which are inclusive of a welcome drink) start at £17.

See https://www.fontwellpark.co.uk for all the latest – and read more about Fontwell’s 100 years of racing in the Chichester Observer series and on this site in the run-up to the raceday.

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