Rookies rule the roost at Fontwell’s Southern National day

Action from the totepool Southern National Picture by Clive Bennett / www.polopictures.co.uk
Action from the totepool Southern National Picture by Clive Bennett / www.polopictures.co.uk

CONDITIONAL jockeys ruled the racecourse on Fontwell Park’s Southern National raceday.

Three of them combined to win four of the seven races – including the feature, the £20,000 Totepool Southern National.

Pat Corbett is not a jockey familiar to many Fontwell regulars but on his second start at the course he landed the contest for trainer Rebecca Curtis on Boyfromnowhere, a six-year-old 9/2 shot who hadn’t won a race in the past year.

Connections plan to use his one-and-three-quarter length victory as a platform for a tilt at the Welsh National at Chepstow over the Christmas period.

Corbett, who made his Fontwell debut only six weeks ago, was one of a trio of conditional riders to taste victory at Sunday’s meeting – which, to the delight of Fontwell officials, was attended by a bumper 4,800 crowd.

There was a double for another rising star of the saddle, Conor Shoemark, both for handler Neil Mulholland.

Shoemark opened the card with a one-and-a-quarter length victory on The Young Master in the Bet totejackpot With totepool Novices’ Handicap Hurdle – then followed up later with victory on 6/4 favourite Waltzing Tornado in the Follow totepool On Twitter Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.

The third conditional rider to notch a win was Gavin Sheehan, who claimed the Bet totetrifecta With totepool Maiden Hurdle on 9/4 market leader Cole Harden for trainer Warren Greatrex.

And if proof were needed this was a day for the next generation of jump jockey stars to take centre stage, Sussex’s Josh Moore provided it with a back-to-back double.

Moore enabled connections of Knight of Pleasure to lift the iconic Salmon Spray Challenge Trophy by taking the toteexacta Salmon Spray Handicap Hurdle on the 5/2 shot for trainer dad Gary.

He was back by the winner’s post half an hour later after a 10/1 triumph on Colebrooke for Renee Robeson in the John Rogerson Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

The card ended, as darkness began to fall, with the Collect totepool Winnings In Betfred Shops Handicap Hurdle, taken by Richie McLernon a day after his Paddy Power Gold Cup win on John’s Spirit at Cheltenham.

This time he was on board the 16/1 Helen Nelmes-trained stalwart runner Orvita.

Fontwell Park marketing executive George Hill described Southern National meeting as a big success.

“We had 4,800 through the gates, which was more than we hoped for, and although it was overcast it stayed dry,” he said.

“I think race-goers enjoyed seeing some good up-and-coming jockeys winning.

“It adds a bit of spice to the day and gives them some names to look out for at future fixtures here. We’ve had good feedback about the day.”

They go again at Fontwell next Wednesday – November 27 – and on Tuesday, December 10, which is being promoted as a Christmas party day.

After that it’s the big one: Boxing Day racing, when a crowd of up to 8,000 could flock through the gates.

Hill said: “One restaurant has already sold out for Boxing day and another will soon. We’d expect the Premier enclosure to sell out, too.”

For ticket and hospitality enquiries for all meetings, visit www.fontwellpark.co.uk or call 01243 543335.