With the biggest week in the jump racing calendar set to be dominated yet again by the Irish, racing fans at Fontwell will get their chance to sample a bit of the unique Cheltenham atmosphere and racing talent from across the water as the annual St. Patrick’s Day event returns this Saturday.
The Sussex course has its own connections with the famous event in Gloucestershire. Last month’s prestigious National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell, which saw TV celebrity Jeremy Kyle in the stands to support his horse Old Guard, is widely acknowledged as the trial race for the Cheltenham Festival’s Stayers’ Hurdle. My Way de Solzen remains the only horse to have won both races in the same year when it rode to victory in 2006.
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With 17 of last year’s 28 winners during Cheltenham Festival week won by Irish trainers and the 2017 Gold Cup winner Sizing Horse ridden by Irish jockey Paddie Fowler and trained by compatriot Jessica Harrington, many are expecting further success next week.
Philip Hide, Clerk of the Course at Fontwell, said: “The Irish have always bred good horses but over the last two decades especially, their dominance has really grown and nowhere has this been more noticeable than during Cheltenham week.”
The former jump jockey added, “A lot of riding talent is sourced in Ireland and a lot of them have historically come here to ride. We’ll have a few Irish jockey’s on parade this Saturday at Fontwell and they always seem to ride well here.”
Saturday’s race goers at Fontwell will see seven spectacular jump races take place over the course of the day with two class 3 races, the Mares race and the class 3 handicap hurdle. But, there will be more than just racing for fans to enjoy with the big Six Nations games including the crunch Wales – Ireland clash and a live Irish band playing after the final race.
“It will be a great atmosphere. We’ll have the races on throughout the day, the rugby will be shown later on in the afternoon and we’ve got an Irish band booked for after the races. As long as the snow we had at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day meeting stays away I’m sure it will be a great day for everyone who comes through the gate” added Hide.
For more information and tickets visit https://www.fontwellpark.co.uk or click here