Thousands lap up Fontwell Boxing Day action

Sober Sailor after winning the opener
Sober Sailor after winning the opener

It's been a year of huge crowds watching Fontwell's big feature meetings - and 2016 ended with another such occasion as thousands packed into the racecourse to see its sixth year of Boxing Day racing.

Close to 8,000 took advantage of the bright winter sunshine and a mild day to get out to enjoy the action, which saw nearly 70 runners across the seven races.

Fontwell Park marketing manager Max Roberts said: "Boxing Day racing at Fontwell Park continues to grow in popularity, as proven this year with just shy of 8,000 racegoers in attendance. We hope everyone has had a good day throughout and enjoyed themselves on the ice rink and meeting the lovely reindeers.

'There were fantastic field sizes and and a huge congratulations goes out to all the winners. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Fontwell in January where we race on three Sundays - January 8, 22 and 29.”

On the track there were doubles for trainer Alan King and jockey Nick Scholfield and only two of the seven races were won by the favourite.

The meeting began with success for Lewes trainer Mark Hoad, who saw his 9/1 runner Sober Sailor take the Rathbourne Ltd of Bath Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle with Kieron Edgar timing his run nicely to beat 11/4 favourite and long-time leader Cafe Au Lait. Our tip Mrs Burbidge was third.

The Southern Cranes And Access Ltd Juvenile Hurdle went to 11/10 favourite Rainbow Dreamer - tipped on this website - as Tom Cannon used his Fontwell experience to good effect to win by 13 lengths from Dusty Raven.

Rainbow Dreamer was the first winner of two back to back for trainer King, whose double was completed by William Featherstone on 10/1 shot Bastien, beating 2/1 favourite The Mighty Don by six lengths in the Pertemps Network Group Novices' Hurdle.

Next, the Winterfields Farm Handicap Steeple Chase was claimed by Bishops Court (5/2), ridden by Scholfield for Neil Mulholland - that was a second success of the afternoon for our website tips.

The Winner Event Services Handicap Hurdle went to Divine Spear, the 7/4 favourite, who took a thrilling finish from Cool Sky under Ned Curtis for Nicky Henderson, while Happy Diva won the Butlins Bognor Regis Mares' Handicap Hurdle at 4/1 for jockey Richard Patrick and trainer Kerry Lee.

Our own tipping treble was capped in the last, the Southern Cranes Access Handicap Chase, when Kid Kalanisi won with Scholfield on board for trainer Jeremy Scott, the 9/1 shot coming in half a length ahead of Itoldyou.

STEVE BONE

See a report and pictures from Fontwell's Boxing Day card in the Chichester Observer, out as usual on Thursday.

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