Fontwell Park (Arc)
Flat, Hurdles, Fences
Approx no. of meetings
Rail from London (1.40 minutes to Barnham)
Bus from (25 minutes from Chichester)
Railway station to Racecourse (Shuttle bus from 2 hours before first race)
Taxis. (Taxi office by station, but not required)
Three stands, two from Paddock badges and premier, including corp hospitality.
Premier inn next door to site
Paddock (£12), Premier (£17), plus meal offers available (£25)
(2) Return before challenge complete
29 May – UK Tracks Visited (11th))
With a crowd of nearly ten thousand (a record for Fontwell Park) and the sunshine beating down the day had all the hallmarks of a religious epic of Hollywood proportions. Madam Hoof and I have almost nothing but praise for the day itself and hugely enjoyed the course, but we have one minor issue which we should get out of the way first. Queues. The Queue after the fourth race in the premier bar meant it took over 25 minutes to get served and meant we saw the fifth race from the TV in the bar. If you are expecting thousands, get a few more staff in.
That being said, it is a minor part of a superb day. Let's being with getting there. We arrived (almost) on time at Barnham station where we had agreed to meet number one son (Sir Junior) and his partner the delightful Lady Lucie. We waited in line for the racecourse bus (free bus, plentiful in supply) with the other urgent racegoers and very effective it was too. This service is offered every race day, although there is also a rather harrassed taxi office at the station too.
The facilities at the course are very good and on any other day would have been more than adequate, with two public stands and a Premier stand which was in line with the finish post. A repeater screen helped the crowd at the premier stand, but a second one in front of the cheap seats would have been even better.
The course, well this is something special. Although an overall of 6-7f exists around the outside, the (i believe) unique feature of this track is the figure of 8 jumps course which reminded one of ones Scalextric track of the seventies, (Sir Junior still has his eyes on it now). This combination of tracks offers excellent views of the running and eveything is suficiently close to the stands to see all the action.
The winners circle and parade ring are in the B configuration (Behind the stands) so the inevitable tidal flow of people is in operation. This was more of a challenge on the day because of the funfair and number of junior racegoers. But this was a family day, very clearly placed to get first timers more involved and that was no more successfully achieved that in the parade ring and winners circle. Our commentator of the day was informatitive and jovial without the danger of patronising the newbies - well played sir.
My final comment on the day, which i hope you can see was a thoroughly good experience, was bumping in Andy Hamilton, the funniest man writting on TV today. We courteously said hello and then tried not to interrupt his day too much, but apart from horsey superstars, jockeys and trainers, he is the biggest celebrity we have been lucky to spy at the track so far. What a great way to wrap up a wonderful day racing.
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