Accolade gives Fontwell team huge grounds for pride

Paul Mant and some of his groundstaff, who have won a top industry award Picture by Louise Adams

Paul Mant and some of his groundstaff, who have won a top industry award Picture by Louise Adams

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The team at Fontwell Park have added to their trophy cabinet by receiving a top industry award for the outstanding performance of their groundstaff.

The track has been named best jump racecourse in the UK in the Neil Wyatt Racecourse Groundstaff Awards. The judges said they wanted to recognise the hard work of the small team to manage their challenging fixture list, which received much support from trainers and jockeys.

The news starts the year on a high for new general manager Holly Glover, who has joined the racecourse from Bath after Phil Bell was promoted to executive director of Fontwell and Brighton.

She said: “I’m thrilled the groundstaff team have been recognised for their hard work which has helped to strengthen the racecourse’s relationship with owners, trainers and jockeys, who appreciate the quality of the track and facilities.

“We have added two more fixtures to the calendar this year which will add to the challenge for the groundstaff as there will be less time for the turf to recover between racing.

“Our clerk of the course Ed Arkell is also clerk at Brighton so he’s certainly got his hands full, but this award shows how strong the team are as a unit and how much they care about Fontwell Park.”

Richard Linley, senior BHA inspector of courses said: “It was an extremely difficult decision for the panel to select a winner in each category for the Pitchcare Neil Wyatt Groundstaff Awards 2011.

“Yet again groundsmen around the country have demonstrated real commitment to their work and on frequent occasions in very difficult circumstances.”

It’s the latest in a string of award wins at Fontwell Park. In 2011 the venue was named Betview Racecourse of the Year and the 888Sport Premier Grandstand was highly commended in the Construction News Awards.