Venetian Lad stole the show when he notched another win round his favourite track – Fontwell Park.
With his regular jockey Marc Goldstein in the saddle, the gutsy horse, trained at Funtington by Lydia Richards, found the drying ground ideal.
The classy grey defied his 11 years and odds of 8/1 to win the two-mile five-furlong Chancellor of the FormChecker Handicap Chase, giving owners the Venetian Lad Partnership a ninth chase win, and his jockey a double on the day.
Seven of the popular grey’s career victories have been at Fontwell and the other two at Plumpton. In addition he has achieved 17 places over fences and looks set to continue in winning form.
Goldstein said: “When he comes to Fontwell he gives his all. Today he had another horse pressing him and it kept him interested. He jumps well at Fontwell Park and the track suits him.
“We were on the wide outside in the final stages of the race, which is not the best place to win from. But he knows where the line is here and went for it.”
Delighted trainer Richards reflected on the one-length win over Emma Baker-trained Arquebusier and said: “I had to run him because it had been too wet for him and he didn’t get the better ground he needs until now. Luckily the ground here was drying all the time. He was second for a long way and came from the back to win well.
“I am so proud of him and, while he is regarded as a Fontwell specialist, he may well run at Plumpton soon if the ground remains good, for he has won there twice. It is the going which is important.”
It was one of the highlights of Fontwell’s Easter family fun raceday, watched by a crowd of around 3,000.
Fontwell marketing manager Max Roberts said the day was a great success, with the Easter egg hunt very popular among younger race-goers.
Roberts praised the sponsor – Chancellor of the Formchecker, run by Craig Roberts – for supporting a Fontwell race day for the fifth year on the trot.
Goldstein also took the chancelloroftheformchecker.net Handicap Chase on 6/4 favourite Here I Am – one of three winners on the day that hd been tipped at www.chichester.co.uk
Our other successes were in the Malcolm Hairy Roberts & Pepe Rufino Memorial Novices’ Hurdle, which Champagne George won at 11/4 under Noel Fehily for Neil Mulholland, and the Always A Chance Handicap Hurdle, won by Royal Salute, an 11/2 shot ridden by Aidan Coleman for Anthony Honeyball.
Fehily’s win makes him Fontwell’s top jockey for the season so far.
Coleman then completed a double of his own, winning the ChancelloroftheFormChecker Thanks Mandy Austen Handicap Chase on Bertenbar, the 5/2 favourite trained by Lawney Hill.
The Winner Tom Cannon, Fontwell’s Champion Jockey Handicap Hurdle went not to Cannon but Paddy Brennan on Sartorial Elegance (7/2 joint fav), while the Introducing The Baron To ChancelloroftheFormChecker Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race was taken by 8/1 chance Alfredo, ridden by Conor O’Farrell.
They race again at Fontwell next Friday, April 15.
JEANNIE KNIGHT & STEVE BONE
Fruity O’Rooney, a winner of nine races and nearly £150,000 in prize money, has been retired from racing.
He has always been known and loved for his gutsy attitude, bold jumping and brave front running performances, and was a particular favourite with race-goers at Fontwell Park.
A Heart of the South spokeswoman said: “It is extremely sad to reach this end of an era with Fruity but we feel incredibly lucky to have been involved with such a genuine and happy character.
“He has been such an injury free horse too, but a few recent niggles need to be respected and he retires in good health ready to enjoy a new sphere outside of racing.
“He has been a loyal servant to Heart of the South Racing and will be greatly by all at Cisswood Stables, the HOTSR team and all of his owners.”
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