Wet weather can’t halt Fontwell Park’s Boxing Day spectacular

It was muddy - very muddy. And it was wet - very wet. But the main thing is ... it was on.

After months of planning for their biggest fixture of the year, officials at Fontwell Park were just delighted they could race and that the recent downpours couldn’t force them to call off the big Boxing Day racecard for the second time in three years.

The going was heavy - and got heavier as the afternoon brought yet more steady rain - but 5,500 packed into the course for some fine festive racing and family fun.

There were fairground rides and circus skills stalls for the youngsters and a card of seven races in which jokeys and horses had to work harder than usual to get to the finishing line.

There was a double for jockey James Best and trainer Kevin Bishop , who had success with 4/6 favourite Queen’s Grove in the Betfred 30 Minute Limit Coupon Mares’ Handicap Hurdle and Wild Ground, a 6/4 market leader, in the Betfred Goals Galore Handicap Chase little more than an hour later.

The latter was the easiest win of the day - 21 lengths the margin of victory.

It was an excellent day for the favourites. The opening race, the Betfred Bonus King Bingo Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle went to 2/1 favourite Duneen Point, ridden by Michael Byrne for trainer Tim Vaughan, who is never far from the winner’s enclosure at Fontwell.

And the 6/4 Kate Buckett-trained favourite Join The Navy came through to take the Betfred Mobile Lotto Handicap Chase.

David Pipe’s Too Generous (6/1) won the Betfred Double Delight Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, while the Betfred The Bonus King Handicap Hurdle went to Chris Meehan on Uimhir A Seacht, also a 6/1 starter, trained by Neil Mulholland.

By this time the rain was pouring and some of the crowd headed for an early exit.

But those who stayed and Seamus Mullins’ The Informant in the last, the Betfred Hat Trick Heaven Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, were rewarded with a splendid 16/1 victory by a length and three-quarters engineered by Andrew Thornton.

See a mud-splattered picture gallery from Fontwell on this website later this week.

STEVE BONE