Fontwell Park Racecourse
Fontwell Park Racecourse logo
|Location||Fontwell, West Sussex|
|Owned by||Northern Racing|
|Screened on||At The Races|
|Course type||National Hunt|
|Notable races||National Spirit Hurdle|
Fontwell Park Racecourse is a horse racing course located in the village of Fontwell in West Sussex, England, owned by Northern Racing. It features a figure-of-eight chase course and an oval hurdles course.
It was the course where Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, had her first winner as an owner when Monaveen won the Chichester Handicap Chase there in October 1949. In 1984 John Francome rode his 1,036th career winner at Fontwell Park, passing Stan Mellor's record for a National Hunt jockey - Francome's record has subsequently been beaten.
The course has been under the ownership of Northern Racing since 2002. The company owns or manages ten racecourses in the UK including Newcastle, Chepstow and Uttoxeter. The feature race of the season at Fontwell Park is the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle run over a distance of two miles and four furlongs in February. It is a recognised Cheltenham Festival trial. My Way de Solzen, trained by Alan King, won the race in 2006 before winning the World Hurdle. Lough Derg, trained by David Pipe and owned by Bill Frewen, took the prize in 2008 and 2009. Trenchant (Alan King/Robert Thornton) took the prize in 2010 and Celestial Halo (Paul Nicholls/Harry Skelton) was the winner in 2011.
A book entitled 'The History of Fontwell Park' written by Jim Beavis was published in 2008. It is available direct from the racecourse priced at £10.
A new £6.5m Grandstand opened in the Premier Enclosure in August 2010. It has been sponsored by online betting operator 888sport. The new facility includes a panoramic hospitality lounge for 350 people on the middle floor, twelve boxes on the top floor and a ground floor suite with new catering and betting outlets. The stand has been designed to cater for business 365 days a year with weddings, conferences, meetings and public shows.
There are 23 race meetings at Fontwell Park in 2011 - the 'customer friendly' fixtures include three evenings, five Sundays, one Saturday and a Boxing Day meeting. In March 2011, Fontwell Park was voted 'Racecourse of the Year' at the Betview Awards in London. Lingfield and Punchestown were the runners-up. The course also made headlines around the world on Friday 29 April 2011, when the racehorse Royal Wedding won at the track on the same day as Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. The story went as far afield as Australia, Canada, the USA and across Europe.