Lliege all set to defend Southern National title

Gorgehous Lliege, with jockey Liam Treadwell and friends of the owner after his 2014 win. Picture: Jeannie Knight
Gorgehous Lliege, with jockey Liam Treadwell and friends of the owner after his 2014 win. Picture: Jeannie Knight
The sun ought to shine for Fontwell's Thursday afternoon racing

Irish raiders among the Fontwell fields

  • Liam Treadwell booked to ride reigning champion again
  • 13 rivals queuing up to snatch Fontwell crown
  • Fruity O’Rooney aiming for sixth success at track
  • Midlands National winner Big Occasion returns to action
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Liam Treadwell will be aiming to steer Gorgehous Lliege to a successful defence of his Southern National title at Fontwell tomorrow (1.50pm).

But the Arundel-based rider faces plenty of competition for glory in the £20,000 feature contest of a seven-race card at the West Sussex track.

Treadwell was in the plate when the son of Lavirco claimed an 8/1 triumph in the gruelling 3m 3f marathon last season.

The partnership survived a blunder to finish just three-quarters-of-a-length clear of runner-up Seven Woods.

Trained by Venetia Williams in Herefordshire, the regining champion has not won in four outings since that day.

He is currently rated 117 – up 7lb since he last set foot on the unique figure-of-eight Fontwell course.

It all suggests Gorgehous Lliege will have his work cut out to claim back-to-back titles – with 13 rivals bidding to snatch his crown.

Among those challengers are Fruity O’Rooney and Reblis.

Fontwell favourite Gary Moore, who trains at Lower Beeding, has given both of his charges the green light to contest the race.

Fruity O’Rooney, in particular, will be a popular sight in the parade ring, with the 12-year-old having already chalked up five victories at the course in his career.

The son of Kahyasi has slipped 9lb in the handicap since his latest win – which came in April of last year.

Three other Fontwell winners are set to go to post.

Dont Do Mondays and Express Du Berlais will represent David Bridgwater and Richard Newland.

And Pete The Feat will be looking to get back to his best for Oxfordshire trainer Charlie Longsdon.

The 11-year-old son of King’s Theatre has won at Fontwell over hurdles and fences.

But the Irish-bred chaser has failed to complete on each of his past three starts, which has seen his mark drop 8lb to 135.

One of the most progressive horses in the field is David Pipe’s eight-year-old Big Occasion.

The son of Sadler’s Wells has been off the track since finishing second to Godsmejudge in the 2013 Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

Prior to that he had won the Listed Midlands National at Uttoxeter as he bounded to a mark of 132.

Big Occasion’s rating has dipped to 129 in his absence and whether he will be fit enough on his return remains to be seen.

Wiesentraum tops the weights with a rating of 138 and the field is completed by Shammick Boy, Regal Flow, Letbeso, Golden Chieftain and Johnny Farrelly’s pair Finish The Story and Qulinton.

The seven-race meeting begins with the toteplacepot Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at 12.45pm.

The toteexacta Salmon Spray Handicap Hurdle at 1.15pm has attracted eight promising entries.

Racing concludes with the Totepool Racing’s Biggest Supporter Handicap Chase at 4pm.

For ticket details and more information, visit fontwellpark.co.uk