FONTWELL PARK bosses stage a new fixture this evening (Thursday) – one devoted to the true nature of National Hunt racing.
The Hunter Chase fixture used to be held at Folkestone but the closure of that track last year has led to the Arena Racing Company – who own both venues – switching it to Fontwell.
Hunter Chase fixtures are open only to thoroughbred horses that have hunted for at least four days in the season before racing starts in January, and they must be ridden by amateur jockeys.
It will be a great opportunity for the Fontwell crowd to assess trainers and young jockeys who they do not normally see in action.
And it will be a night for the spotlight to be on older horses – there are even a couple of 14 year olds among a decent number of entries across the seven-race card, which comprises entirely hunter chases.
One of the more familiar trainers on the card is Hampshire’s Chris Gordon, a regular at Fontwell and often a winner, who has entered Herecomesthetruth in the final race of the night.
Hunter Chase nights prove a big draw wherever they are held – with Cheltenham among other jumps courses to stage them annually.
Fontwell Park general manager Tracy Skinner said: “I’m really excited about this new fixture to Fontwell Park celebrating the true nature of National Hunt racing.
“We’re expecting a good crowd to watch what should be a great evening.”
Racing begins at 5.10pm with the Guy Peate Memorial Novices’ Hunters’ Chase for the Guy Peate Memorial Challenge Trophy and ends at 8.25pm with the United Hunts Cup Open Hunters’ Chase.
Tonight’s racing is part two of Fontwell Park’s latest double-header.
Yesterday, the course staged a packed eight-race card which acted as a fundraising afternoon for the British Heart Foundation.
It’s the second pair of back-to-back meetings Fontwell has secured in recent times – the track also stages a two-day festival at the start of October which features Friday and Saturday cards.
After this week’s double bill, Fontwell’s attention turns to Sunday week’s family race day, which should bring one of the year’s largest crowds through the gates.
On that day, May 26, a seven-race card will be complemented by free entertainment including bouncy castles, a fun fair, pets corner and much more.
Poppet and Katsuma from the Moshi Monsters will be present to keep youngsters entertained. Gates will open at midday and the first race is off at 2.20pm.
A busy May at the course ends with a Wednesday afternoon meeting on May 29, during half-term.