Fontwell Park Racecourse
Fontwell Park is a National Hunt course located on the A27/A29 roundabout between Chichester and Arundel in West Sussex. The closest railway station to the racecourse is Barnham with frequent trains from London Victoria, Portsmouth and Brighton. Passengers from Southampton can go direct to Barnham. A shuttle bus runs on all race days.
Fontwell is a sharp, left handed track. The chase course is in a figure of eight circuit while the hurdles track is oval. The track is particularly suited to fast, accurate jumpers who like to race up with the pace. You should always take account of the going when assessing your Fontwell racing tips for today. The course can become extremely soft so a race like the Southern National requires horses with plenty of stamina.
Fontwell Horse Racing History
The racecourse was founded by local trainer Alfred Day who was based at The Hermitage, by the Chichester to Arundel road. He purchased sufficient land to open the racecourse on 21st May 1924. The steeplechase course is in a figure of eight to maximise the space, the only such jumps course in the UK. The first race was won by Gem, ridden by Fred Rees and returned the 5-4 favourite.
The course was bought by London divorce solicitor Isidore Kerman in 1970, already the owner of nearby Plumpton racecourse. Fontwell stayed in the family until being sold to Northern Racing in 2002. It is now part of the Arena Racing Company and has benefitted from plenty of investment in recent years. A new grandstand was opened in the Premier Enclosure in August 2010 at the cost of £6.5 million.
Fontwell stages 24 jumps meetings throughout the year. The National Spirit Hurdle takes place in late February. The Southern National is held in November and provides a thrilling spectacle over this unique jumps track. There is over £50,000 in prize money on offer across the card and the big race always attracts plenty of Fontwell betting tips. Other notable meetings include the 2-day Oktoberfest, Ladies evening in August and the popular Boxing Day fixture.
The most valuable race of the season at Fontwell Park is the £80,000 Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle over two and a half miles. The race is named after a horse that won the Champion Hurdle in 1947 and 1948 for Epsom Trainer Vic Smyth. The horse won the Rank Challenge Cup at Fontwell for three successive seasons and was a winner here five times in total. The race is for four-year-olds and upwards with ten flights of hurdles to be jumped. It was first run in 1965 and quickly became established as a Champion Hurdle trial.
The National Spirit Hurdle was deleted from the programme in 1994 but was revived as a handicap hurdle two years’ later. It reverted to a conditions race in 1999 with the distance extended from two and a quarter miles. It now attracts some of the leading long distance hurdlers ahead of the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Fontwell is also the venue for the Class 3 Southern National, a handicap chase over three miles and three furlongs.
Fontwell was the scene of the first ever winner for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Monaveen won the Chichester Handicap Chase in October 1949, owned jointly by Princess Elizabeth, as she was then, and The Queen Mother.
Jockey John Francome beat Stan Mellor’s record number of winners for a National Hunt jockey in 1984. He won his 1,036th race on Don’t Touch at Fontwell Park.
Fontwell has been notable for course specialists and Certain Justice won a remarkable 14 times here between 1959 and 1966. His record was briefly under threat from St Athans Lad who regularly featured among Fontwell horse racing tips. He won eleven times at Fontwell within 14 months during 1992 and 1993.
The inaugural running of the National Spirit Hurdle was won by Salmon Spray, the winner of the Champion Hurdle in 1966. Salmon Spray has a handicap hurdle named after him at the Southern National meeting. Two time Champion hurdler Comedy of Errors won the race in 1976 and 1977 for Fred Rimell and John Burke. Bob Champion rode Kybo to victory the following year for Josh Gifford. The pair teamed up again in 1981 to score with Random Leg.
Another popular winner of the National Spirit Hurdle was Bob Turnell’s Bird’s Nest in 1979. John Francome was successful on Snowtown Boy (1980) and Cut A Dash (1984). Beech Road won this race in 1989 for Toby Balding before winning the Champion Hurdle in the same season.
Baracouda won the race in 2001 for French trainer Francois Doumen. He won two World Hurdles (now known as the Stayers’ Hurdle) as well as winning the Long Walk Hurdle four times. His Fontwell victory came during a 10-race unbeaten run between November 2000 and November 2002. Other notable winners include Lady Cricket (1999), My Way De Solzen (2006) and Celestial Halo (2011).
The Southern National was won by Golden Chieftain in 20015, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Brendan Powell. He looked set to win the Midlands National at Uttoxeter the following spring, only to fall at the final fence. Rebecca Curtis sent Boyfromnowhere down from Wales to win the Southern National in 2013 and Venetia Williams won it the following season with Gorgehous Lliege. In 2017 Anthony Honeyball and Sean Bowen were successful with Cresswell Breeze.
Fontwell Betting Tips
Paul Nicholls tops our list of the best horse racing tips for Fontwell today. He is the leading trainer at the track over the last three seasons over fences. Nicholls has recorded an impressive 55% strike rate over the larger obstacles, compared to a respectable 29% over hurdles. Dan Skelton also has a fine record over fences with a 46% strike rate over the same period. Anthony Honeyball and Neil Mulholland are other trainers to note over fences. Gary Moore enjoys plenty of success over hurdles while Alan King shows a 36% strike rate.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson and Sam Twiston-Davies both have excellent strike rates here at 42% and 47% respectively. Aidan Coleman and Nick Scholfield are also worth including in our Fontwell racing tips. They have each recorded a level stakes profit for their followers over the past three years.