Fontwell fans may not have seen the last of Junction Fourteen.
The four-year-old son of King’s Theatre got up brilliantly to snatch the Quicksilver Slots Play £500 Roulette Novices’ Hurdle at the track’s latest jumps card, witnessed by a small crowd on a dark and grey afternoon.
Under jockey Aidan Coleman, the 9/4-favourite stayed on up the hill to get the better of Cloud Creeper by a head in a thrilling photo finish.
It was a first career win for Junction Fourteen, who was fifth in a strong Wincanton bumper last term before finishing third on hurdles debut at Exeter earlier this month.
And while Emma Lavelle reckons he has plenty to learn, she refused to rule out a return to Fontwell in the future.
The trainer, who is based in Hatherden near Andover, said: ‘He has still got plenty to learn but he is a nice horse, that much is for certain.
‘I was talking to Aidan and he was amazed at how green he is.
‘He does everything on the bridle but when you let him off the bridle he wonders what is going on.
‘He is a nice young horse and hopefully he will have a bright future.
‘There are no plans just yet. We will just keep teaching him but it’s so far, so good.
‘Fontwell is not an easy track for a novice but he seems to have handled it pretty well.
‘I wouldn’t be afraid to bring him back if there was the right race for him.’
The first race of the afternoon - the Quicksilverslots Get Up To £200 Freeplays Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Chase - was won by Mister Wiseman at 3/1, ridden by Thomas Cheesman for trainer Nigel Hawke.
Strawberry Hill, trained by Caroline Keevil and tipped on this website on Wednesday morning, powered clear after the last to win the Quicksilver £1 To Win £500 Novices’ Handicap Chase at 5/2. That was the first leg of a Fontwell double for James Best.
An hour later he took the 32Red.com Handicap Chase on Volio Vincente, who is handled by Carroll Gray.
Best said: “I’m absolutely delighted to get a double today. Both wins were very satisfying.
“I was especially pleased to win with Volio Vincente, who is half-brother to Ballygarvey, a horse looked after by my boss Philip Hobbs who I won on at Chepstow earlier this year.
“The trainer told me to make it a test without going too hard and I did that. It was a real test of stamina. Jumping has been an issue for him in the past but it wasn’t today. He did everything right.”
Jack Doyle then steered Seebright to a 7/4 triumph in the 32Red Casino Handicap Hurdle before...
The 32Red On The App Store Handicap Hurdle was claimed by 7/1 contender Kilrush, ridden by Michael Byrne for Neil Mulholland, but only after long-time Noel Fehily on Dom Lukka took a tumble at the last.
There was a twist in the Fontwell tale in the final race, the 32Red Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, in which champion jockey and BBC Sports Perosnality of the Year contender Tony McCoy was 1/5 favourite on Anthony Honeyball-trained Rouquine Sauvage, recently bought by JP McManus.
He ran a decent race but couldn’t catch Tom O’Brien on Larks Rising, a 16/1 contender who streaked into a huge early lead and had enough to land it, securing a double for the afternoon for trainer Keevil.
Racing returns to Fontwell on Tuesday, December 10 before their annual Boxing Day fixture brings the curtain down on 2013.
For ticket information, call 01243 543335 or visit fontwellpark.co.uk
ROB ATKINS & STEVE BONE