Chasing glory is no Problema

Fontwell chief Phil Bell

Fontwell chief Phil Bell

Shantou Village on the way to another Fontwell victory / Picture by Clive Bennett

Village people are happy again at Fontwell

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PROBLEMA TIC is set to launch his chasing career at Fontwell’s Boxing Day bash.

And Phil Bell – executive director of the West Sussex course – is confident a record crowd will be there to witness the talent’s debut.

Nicky Henderson’s five-year-old son of Kapgarde was yesterday declared for the Mercedes Benz of Chichester Classic Beginners’ Chase (1pm).

The gelding has not been seen since finishing eighth behind Russian War in the Silver Cross Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National festival in April.

But after schooling over the larger obstacles, trainer Henderson is now ready to unleash his promising young jumper.

And he will face four rivals in the opening clash of Fontwell’s festive six-race card.

Oscar Papa, Kind Of Easy, There And Then and Be My Light are set to line up in opposition.

But there is no doubt the contest revolves around Problema Tic.

A dual bumper winner in 2010, he was unbeaten in that sphere when Henderson switched him to hurdles.

In the hands of champion jockey Tony McCoy, the Sir Robert Ogden-owned gelding then chalked up a quickfire January double over hurdles – before his season went off the boil somewhat.

But he is now ready to kickstart his career in Fontwell’s first-ever Boxing Day meeting.

The fixture was primed for launch this time last year but fell foul of the adverse winter weather.

There is no such danger this time around, though, and Bell is confident of delivering a smash hit.

He said: ‘We’re hoping for the biggest crowd for five years – that’s what we’re aiming for.

‘Ticket sales have been going very strong. I think a lot of people were waiting for the weather as last year we had to call the meeting off.

‘But we are 99-per-cent certain it’s going to be fine to race and as a result tickets have been flying.

‘The biggest crowd since Northern Racing took over in 2002 was 8,000 and we are hoping to beat that.

‘As last year the fixture was called off, though, we have nothing to base it on. So our biggest challenge has been preparing for the number of people that come – be it 5,000 or 10,000.

‘But we’ve made sure that everyone who does come will be happy.’

The six races culminate with the Butlins Bognor Regis Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (3.45pm).

Alongside racing, there will be fun for all the family including dodgems, small fairground rides, stilt walkers and a circus skills work shop.

Meanwhile, action from the other Boxing Day meetings – including the King George VI Chase from Kempton – will be shown on two big screens.

Tickets start at £21. Gates open at 10.30am.

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