Halling’s Wish claimed home glory to get Fontwell’s two-day October festival off to a flying start.
The Gary Moore-trained three-year-old won the opening race – the Shoreham Port Authority Juvenile Maiden Hurdle – at 10/1 as racing fans flooded to the West Sussex track yesterday.
But there was no such luck for his stable-mate Fruity O’Rooney.
The four-time Fontwell winner and fans’ favourite was beaten into sixth spot behind Tindaro in the day’s feature race – the Fuller’s London Pride Handicap Chase.
Halling’s Wish had raced eight times on the flat without success – including once at Goodwood – before he made the switch to Lower Beeding last month.
And Moore wasted no time in sending him hurdling, with a one-and-a-half length victory over Instinctual justifying that move.
The son of Halling’s maiden win was not without alarm, though.
Having move up patiently from the rear under Moore’s son and conditional jockey Josh, he took it up with three to jump.
But then disaster struck as he stumbled at the next and his rider lost an iron.
Moore jnr recovered in style, though, showing a compsure which belied his experience to drive his mount home.
Moore snr said: ‘He jumped the hurdle too well and it was slippery out there, which made it harder than it needed to be.
‘But Josh did well to get his iron back in and he gave him a lovely ride throughout.
‘There were bad horses behind but he couldn’t have done it any easier.’
Kings Lodge beat Ski Sunday (7/2) to win the second race – the Nicola Coy Appreciation Society Breakthrough Novices’ Chase at 5/2.
After two life-saving operations and suffering with a deformed kidney, the King’s Theatre seven-year-old scored for the first time since a hurdle victory in 2011.
Foxcub won the ‘Elixir’ New Album By Ocasan Handicap Hurdle before it was heartbreak for Fruity O’Rooney.
In truth, the 10-year-old needed a far tougher test of stamina than the two-mile, two-furlong trip – and failed to stay with Tindaro and second-placed King Edmund as they wound it up.
So Fine claimed a 9/2 victory in the Blacksmith Bob Handicap Hurdle for jockey Richard Johnson, while Eleazer was a 16/1 winner of the James Todd Chartered Accountants Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.
The first day closed with Kings Palace winning the Southern Water Supporting Macmillan Maiden Hurdle at 15/8.
Trainer David Pipe insists he won’t be seen at his best until he goes chasing, though.
Today’s card begins at 1.55pm, with gates opening at midday.