Sixteen in frame for Fontwell Park’s Southern National

A FIELD of 16 is set to go in one of Fontwell Park’s biggest races of the year today.

The £13,000 totepool Southern National is the feature race of the track’s 999 Emergency Race Day at 3.15pm.

Paul Nicholls has entered his impressive seven-year-old Aldertune, who hasn’t been out of the first three in any of his past nine races.

Sussex handler Gary Moore has entered Ballyfoy while Nigel Twiston-Davies and Jonjo O’Neill are other handlers bidding for the prize.

Fontwell Park general manager Phil Bell said: “I think it’s wide open - the best renewal for many years.

“I’m pleased with entries for the Southern National and the £10,000 Salmon Spray Hurdle. The prize money for both is pretty strong in the current climate and that’s helped us.”

OUR FONTWELL TIPS FOR TODAY: 12.25 Tribal Dance, 12.55 Hill Forts Gloria, 1.30 Super Directa, 2.05 Dhaafer, 2.40 Bendant, 3.15 Aldertune, 3.50 Fox Appeal.

Today’s card doubles up as a fundraiser for the air ambulance which covers Sussex, which is due to fly in before racing. There will also be displays by the police and fire brigade.

We’ll have results here on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile Fontwell Park is celebrating being one of five racecourses shortlisted for an industry award recognising the importance of improving the race day experience for customers.

The Racecourse Association’s Showcase Awards celebrate the innovation and excellence being shown across Britain’s 60 racecourses.

Fontwell’s entry centres on their Royal Wedding race night in April, when there was a British theme to the evening and the management team persuaded Sussex trainer Nick Gifford to run his horse called Royal Wedding on the night. The horse read the script and won the opening race – and the story went around the world. The PR value was judged at £750,000.

The other courses shortlisted in the category are Newcastle, Hamilton, Windsor and Kempton Park. The winner will be announced on Thursday.