Nicholls, Vaughan, McCain, McCoy - they’re all backing Fontwell’s big festival

Trainer Paul Nicholls is Fontwell-bound
Trainer Paul Nicholls is Fontwell-bound

Fontwell Park bosses have told of their delight that all of jump racing’s top trainers are throwing their weight behind their first two-day festival.

The track’s general manager wrote to 300 National Hunt trainers in the summer to alert them to their back-to-back meetings, which takes place today (Friday) and Saturday.

Many have responded by entering numerous runners in the 14 races to be held across the two days, and the current top nine in the jumps trainers’ standing are all involved.

Tim Vaughan, Donald McCain, Peter Bowen, Nicky Henderson, Evan Williams, Jonjo O’Neill, David Pipe, Philip Hobbs and Nigel Twiston-Davies will all send runners to post.

Many leading jockeys will have rides – with the likes of champion jockey Tony McCoy and Richard Johnson both due to appear both days.

THE OBSERVER’S FONTWELL TIPS FOR FRIDAY: 210 Band of Thunder, 240 Red Harbour, 315 Bathwick Man, 350 Intac, 425 Woolfall Treasure, 500 Ballagio, 535 Inner steel.

The trainer-jockey pairing of Vaughan and Johnson return to Fontwell six weeks after their four-timer at ladies’ night.

Respected trainer Nicholls will do a question-and-answer session in Fontwell House on Friday to reveal his plans for stable stars such as Big Buck’s, Denman and Kauto Star.

Leading owner Andy Stewart will also be there. With the forecast looking good for both days, Fontwell staff hope to attract more than 3,000 through the gates tomorrow and 6,000 on Saturday. Tomorrow is Best of British Day with Fullers a major sponsor, while Saturday is Irish day backed by Southern Water, who will raise money for a variety of charities.

Fontwell Park general manager Phil Bell said: “We’re delighted with the number and quality of entries across both days’ cards. There will be some very competitive races.

“Advance ticket sales have been very good - in fact advance sales for the Friday are the best we have ever had for a weekday meeting. We won’t count our chickens with the weather, but it looks good at the moment.”

Bell expressed his delight at the backing from trainers.

We’ll have tips for each day’s races at www.bognor.co.uk – plus a full report of each day’s action.

See next week’s Observer for full coverage.

For tickets, call 01243 543335 or go to www.fontwellpark.co.uk