Fontwell is instant hit with teenage talent

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Conor Shoemark gave Fontwell a resounding ‘thumbs up’ after a memorable debut.

The 19-year-old claimed the scalp of champion jockey Tony McCoy as he opened his account at the West Sussex track yesterday.

He powered Upton Mead up the hill to triumph in the Cheltenham Non Runner No Bet At Handicap Chase at 15/2.

McCoy, on board 11/4-favourite Chestnut Ben, led over the last but had no answer as Shoemark swept past on his six-year-old son of Jimble.

Understandably, the course was a big hit with the talented amateur rider as he looked at home around it’s unique figure-of-eight.

Shoemark said: ‘I have never been to Fontwell before – it’s great!

‘It definitely has the thumbs up from me.

‘I thought I had a chance (coming to the last).

‘I have ridden him before, so I knew he was a real galloper and he travelled all the way to the line.

‘He was fantastic over his jumps –clever, too.

‘And he is very good around these tracks, like Fontwell and Plumpton.

‘He was absolutely spot on.’

Shoemark, who was claiming 7lb on his 74-rated mount, has now recorded four victories this season.

None will have been sweeter than a battling victory over his hero – the 17-time champion jockey.

McCoy also had to settle for second best in the last race on the card, too.

He was aboard 2/1-shot Hawaii Five-Nil – a £130,000 purchase in December after a bumper victory in Ireland.

But they failed to shake off Gentleman Jon, who claimed the flat race after a scrap in the home straight.

The Northern Irishman did celebrate one victory at Fontwell, though.

He kicked things off with a comfortable success on Heronry in the Docker Hughes Memorial Novices’ Hurdle.

Sent off the even-money favourite, the Heron Island gelding was in command from two out in the contest named in memory of the former leader of the Pompey football firm the 657 Crew.

Lienosus gave his trainer Evan Williams a timely reminder of his quality as he won the Try A Trifecta At Maiden Hurdle.

The seven-year-old son of Old Vic, who holds entries at next week’s Cheltenham Festival, cruised to a six-length success to justify his 1/2-favouritism.

Speedy Bruere, the 6/5 market-leader, made virtually all to win the Cheltenham Ten To Follow At Handicap Chase.

And Fontwell favourite Wild Ground was back in the winners’ enclosure for the fourth time at the course.

The 12-year-old jumped superbly to win the Arundel Equine Hospital Handicap Chase at 15/2.

Jockey Brendan Powell, who was stepping in for the banned James Best, said: ‘She is not very big but she loves it here.

‘She is very quick and nimble, so it suits her going around the figure of eight.’