Emotions run high as Utopian stirs happy memories

Jockey David Dunsdon, left, and trainer Nick Gifford had an emotional day at Fontwell following Utopian's 12-length victory Picture: Clive Bennett
Jockey David Dunsdon, left, and trainer Nick Gifford had an emotional day at Fontwell following Utopian's 12-length victory Picture: Clive Bennett
The start of racing on Washout Wednesday / Picture by Malcolm Wells

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Utopian delivered an emotional success in the Live Pool Information at totepool.com bumper at Fontwell yesterday.

Findon-based trainer Nick Gifford and his cousin – amateur jockey David Dunsdon – teamed up to record an easy 12-length win with the 9/4-favourite.

Gifford’s father Josh, a legendary Grand National-winning trainer, died on February 9 but the wounds are naturally still raw in West Sussex.

Clearly overcome with emotion, Dunsdon delayed his return to the winners’ enclosure where both he and Gifford were reduced to tears.

In an interview with the broadcast media, Gifford almost broke down again when recalling the 120,000 euro purchase of the talent back in June.

He said: ‘It is a very emotional time at the moment.

‘Dad and I bought this horse back in the summer – it was one of the last we purchased together.

‘David’s father asked us to find him a nice horse and from the moment we saw him, we loved him.

‘The world is his oyster now.’

Utopian is unlikely to tackle the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, though, with the ground not expected to be soft enough.

However, one Fontwell winner who has booked his place at Prestbury Park – for the Foxhunters Chase – is former Gold Cup seventh Barbers Shop.

The 10-year-old recorded a narrow triumph over West Sussex challenger Merry Vic in the totepool Supports The Racehorse Sanctuary Foxhunters Trial.

Owned by the Queen, who had her first ever winner at Fontwell with Monaveen in 1949, he had to pull out all the stops to justify his 4/6 price under amateur rider Nico de Boinville.

West Sussex handler Gary Moore celebrated success with 7/2 joint-favourite Sircozy in the Bet totepool Text tote To 89660 Handicap Hurdle.

Earlier, Richard Johnson took a giant stride to retaining his crown as Fontwell’s leading jockey with a smart double, taking his tally to 10 for the season.

He partnered 15/8-favourite Oscar Davy to a classy 15-length victory in the toteplacepot Lough Derg Novices’ Hurdle.

And then joined forces with Mortimers Cross to win the lift the Certain Justice Challenge Trophy with a 5/1 victory in the totequadpot Handicap Chase.

In the toteexacta Novices’ Chase, the Emma Lavelle-trained Chariot Charger made all under Noel Fehily to justify 2/1-favouritism.