Move over Cheltenham - Channel 4 viewers are in tune with Fontwell Park

The late afternoon sun illuminates the totepool Southern National at Fontwell Picture by Neil Egerton / www.neilegerton-photography.com
The late afternoon sun illuminates the totepool Southern National at Fontwell Picture by Neil Egerton / www.neilegerton-photography.com

MOVE over Cheltenham – racing at Fontwell Park’s what they all want to watch.

Staff at the racecourse are celebrating viewing figures which show more than 600,000 tuned in to watch Sunday’s totepool Southern National on Channel 4.

That was more than watched the rest of that day’s C4 programme, which was from the final day of the Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham.

It’s another feather in the cap for Fontwell, which grabbed national and international attention in the spring when Nick Gifford’s horse Royal Wedding won at the track’s Royal Wedding race night.

This year’s £13,000 Southern National – won by 15/2 shot Giles Cross, trained by Victor Dartnall and ridden by Denis O’Regan – was regarded by many as one of the best renewals of the race for years.

Giles Cross led for much of the gruelling three-mile contest but had to hold off a strong challenge from the 4/1 favourite Rey Nacardo, holding on to win by a length-and-three-quarters.

The race was the highlight of a great day’s racing in front of a crowd of more than 3,200, who also enjoyed demonstrations by the emergency services.

Fontwell’s Emma Newbery said: “It was fantastic: top-class racing and lots more that a large crowd enjoyed. The viewing figures capped it.”

The Tikram Handicap Hurdle for the Salmon Spray Challenge Trophy went to Tom O’Brien on board the 5/2 favourite Bally Legend, trained by Caroline Keevil.

It was another good day for followers of the Fontwell tips we post on www.bognor.co.uk. There were two wins for horses we backed, including a 20/1 success for Stephen Donovan on Fox Appeal for trainer Emma Lavelle in the totetrifecta Maiden Hurdle.

Our other winner came from Gerald Quinn on 7/4 favourite Tribal Dance in the Ocasan Not All Heroes Wear Capes Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

We also tipped a second, a third and, in a 16-runner field, a fourth. They race again at Fontwell next Wednesday – don’t miss more of those tips at www.bognor.co.uk on the morning of racing.