THREE jockeys were toasting doubles as a bumper crowd packed into Fontwell Park for St Patrick’s Raceday.
Liam Treadwell, Tom Cannon and Nick Scholfield notched two wins apiece - while the other big winners of the day were those who followed sports editor Steve Bone’s tips at www.chichester.co.uk, five of which were first past the post.
Sussex-based Treadwell’s doublwe was noteworthy for coming after he suffered a nasty-looking fall from Element Quarter in the opener, the EBF Stallions Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle.
He was on the ground for a while, sparking fears of a significant injury, but the crowd were pleased to see him slowly get to his feet - and little more than an hour later he was in the winner’s enclosure after taking the Mercedes Benz of Chichester Handicap Hurdle on 5/1 shot Prouts Pub for Findon trainer Nick Gifford.
Later Treadwell won the Warner Goodmans’ Paddy Day Conveyancing Gallop Handicap Hurdle for Venetia Williams on board Dubawi Island (11/2).
His misfortune in the opening race came before Scholfield romped to a comfortable victory on 2/9 favourite Desert Queen, trained by Harry Fry.
Scholfield followed that with a triumph on Jamie Snowden’s 9/4 chance Jean Fleming in the Wirsol Energy Mares’ Handicap Hurdle - that three-and-a-half length win comfortable but by only half the distance he’d had to spare on Desertt Queen.
It was also an occasion to celebrate for Cannon, whose double was fitting as it came on the day he was presented with the trophy for being Fontwell’s top jockey of 2014 - the third time in a row he has lifted the silverware. It was handed to him by contest sponsor Craig Roberts, who runs the www.chancelloroftheformchecker.net website.
Cannon’s wins came either side of the trophy pick-up - he landed the Challenge G4BFC To A Charity Match Handicap Chase on 5/6 favourite Star Presenter, trained by Chris Gordon, and took the Winner Vehicles Rentals Give 4 Beth Handicap Chase on 5/1 contender Itoldyou for Linda Jewell.
Bridal Suite, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Tommy Dowling, came home the 4/1 winner of the Julie Van Biene Is Supporting Give4Beth Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle which rounded off the afternoon’s action.
The five winners tipped on Saturday morning on the Observer website were Desert Queen, Star Presenter, Jean Fleming, Dubawi Island and Bridal Suite - while another of our picks, Reblis, was a 13/2 second.
The Irish theme to the day proved popular, with the Guinness flowing and Guinness hats everywhere. Lucky leprechuans toured the public areas handing out surprise gifts while Irish band The Cracklin’ Griffins entertained punters after the last race.
People named Patrick or Patricia, plus those with red hair, got free admission.
This was a much-needed success for Fontwell bosses. Only one of their four previous fixtures scheduled for this year had been able to go ahead - the other three were washed out - and even that, National Spirit Hurdle raceday, was somewhat spoiled by rain and chilly conditions.
Fontwell’s next scheduled meetings are on successive Fridays, April 10 and 17.
See coverage of the St Patrick’s Raceday in the Observer - out on Thursday.