Fontwell to bid farewell to a favourite - plus tips for today

Morestead after one of his Fontwell victories
Morestead after one of his Fontwell victories

FONTWELL Park punters bid farewell to a favourite next week – Morestead.

The veteran racehorse, owned by Les Gilbert and trained by Brendan Powell, will dig his toes into the Sussex soil for his last gallop around the picturesque course next Friday, April 17.

His final race before he retires should be a special one and has been aptly named the Morestead Retirement Handicap Chase.

To see him off in style Fontwell are planning a special presentation to his owner Les celebrating this superb horse’s career.

Of a mammoth total of 113 races during Morestead’s career, the ten-year-old Chestnut gelding, out of Traditionally (USA) and Itsy Bitsy Betsy (USA), has had 49 runs at Fontwell.

He knows the course well and from a total of eight wins, three have been on the Sussex track.

Morestead is a well-loved horse at Fontwell Park and we are honoured to have him here for his final race.

Morestead’s trio of wins at Fontwell began in October 2008 when he was ridden home by 19-times champion jockey AP McCoy. Since then, ridden by last year’s Grand National-winning Sussex jockey Leighton Aspell, Morestead’s wins include an impressive triumph 19 lengths ahead of the field in September 2010 and a further success in May 2013.

Simon Williams, Fontwell Park’s executive director, said: “Morestead is a well-loved horse at Fontwell Park and we are honoured to have him here for his final race.

“His owner Les is also a favourite and regularly joins us for racing, often to watch one of his many horses trained by either Hampshire trainer Chris Gordon or Lambourne-based Brendan Powell.

“Following Morestead’s final race we will present Les with a special memento from Fontwell Park – an exclusively commissioned painting of Morestead by equine artist Elizabeth Armstrong, something we hope he will enjoy looking back on for many years to come.”

To buy tickets for the Morestead Retirement Raceday, visit www.fontwellpark.co.uk or call 01243 543335. Save money in advance with tickets from just £12 if pre-booked by 3pm the day before racing. Under-18s go free.

A seven-race card takes place at Fontwell today (April 10) complemented by a host of Easter-related activities for kids.

Our tips for today: 1.55 Vayland, 2.30 My Silver Cloud, 3.05 Java Rose, 3.40 De Blacksmith, 4.15 Comedy House, 4.50 Very Noble, 5.25 Vaillant Nonantais.

Free activities include zorbing, fairground rides and pony rides, as well as Fonty the Fontwell Park mascot’s Easter egg hunt for children.

Racing begins at 2.10pm, with the last race off at 5.35pm. It will be the perfect warm-up for Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree, and a number of jockeys scheduled to race in the big one are likely to be in action at Fontwell.

The egg hunt will be for the whole family. Simply hunt around the course for the pictures of Fonty’s eggs and make a note of their location on the entry sheet. When complete, egg hunters can hand their forms in and receive a chocolate Easter treat for taking part.

Three lucky egg hunters will be drawn at random at the end of the day. First prize is a day out at Drusilla’s Park, East Sussex, second prize is a tablet and third prize invites the hunter and family back to Fontwell Park for the Bank Holiday Family Fun Day on Sunday, May 24, when Peppa Pig will be present.

STEVE BONE