Vaughan eyes Sunday best at Fontwell

Ski Sunday will go for glory at Fontwell this afternoon
Ski Sunday will go for glory at Fontwell this afternoon
The sun ought to shine for Fontwell's Thursday afternoon racing

Irish raiders among the Fontwell fields

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Ski Sunday is on a mission to make up for lost time.

And the eight-year-old son of King’s Best is hoping to use Fontwell’s two-day October festival, which begins today, as a springboard back to jump racing’s top table.

The West Sussex track plays host to 14 races before the action climaxes tomorrow afternoon.

And Tim Vaughan’s talented gelding will contest the Nicola Coy Appreciation Society Breakthrough Novices’ Chase today (2.40pm).

Having bounced back from a 176-day lay-off to finish second to Red Riverman at Ffos Las in August, he arrives at the track in good form.

But it is a while since he has delivered his very best in public.

Ski Sunday was second to Silk Affair in the Grade 3 Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2009.

A three-time winner over the smaller obstacles, he chased the high-class grey Walkon home in a Grade 1 at Aintree in his next outing.

But since scaling a career-high mark of 143 after a six-length triumph over Skint at Kempton in 2011, the gelding has failed to deliver over fences.

Having contested just three chases following his debut in November 2011, he remains unexposed.

And Vaughan will be hoping there is plenty more to come from his talent as the Glamorgan trainer sends him into battle at Fontwell.

Ski Sunday is not the only runner with experience of the biggest meetings in National Hunt racing who will grace today’s card.

Gary Moore’s Fruity O’Rooney, who was second in the Grade 3 JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in 2012, runs in the day’s feature race – the Fuller’s London Pride Handicap Chase (3.50pm).

And Fontwell’s general manager Tracy Skinner is delighted with the quality of racing in prospect as the course prepares to launch its third two-day festival.

She said: ‘Everything is set for what should be an action-packed couple of days.

‘If all goes to plan, more than 9,000 people will join us across the two days of racing.

‘Prize money for the festival is just over £100,000 and we are confident of good-quality fields.

‘Fontwell first staged these back-to-back meetings in 2011 and we feel the festival is beginning to establish itself in the annual plans of top jump-racing trainers and owners.

‘We are looking forward to welcoming everyone and if we can total 9,000 people across the two days, we will be happy.

‘But this marks the start of a busy time – with a total of eight fixtures to come between now and the year’s end.’

This afternoon’s card begins with the Shoreham Port Authority Juvenile Maiden Hurdle at 2.10pm.

And after Ski Sunday goes to war with six rivals, the ‘Elixir’ New Album By Ocasan Handicap Hurdle will go to post at 3.15pm.

Fruity O’Rooney’s return to his home course, where he has already won four times, is followed by the Blacksmith Bob Handicap Hurdle at 4.25pm.

The James Todd Chartered Accountants Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase is due off at 5pm.

And then Fontwell fans will get a glimpse of hot favourite Kings Palace in the final contest – the Southern Water Supporting Macmillan Maiden Hurdle (5.30pm).

David Pipe’s talent was second in the Listed Ascot Championship Bumper in December after a debut win at Plumpton.