MORESTEAD couldn’t pull off a win that would have raised the various stand roofs at Fontwell - but still put in a great display and got the warmest of ovations on his 100th start.
The much-loved nine-year-old - who has now racked up more than 40 starts at Fontwell alone - was fourth in the West Sussex Office Furniture 10th Anniversary Handicap Chase having led for the first half of the contest.
Owners Les and Jan Gilbert and trainer Brendan Powell were all present to see the crowd give the old campaigner a big cheer before and after the race, with connections presented with special mementoes of the horse’s links with Fontwell.
The race went to another runner who’s becoming something of a Fontwell specialist - the Ben Pauling-trained Malibu Sun, enjoying his third win at the West Sussex course as Nico de Boinville steered him to victory.
See our video of Morestead’s 100th race at the top of this article.
Jockeys of the night were Fontwell favourite Tom Cannon, who took the first and fifth races, and Dave Crosse, who won the third and sixth.
The meeting opened with a win for 11/2 shot Ballyheigue Bay - tipped on this website on Friday morning - for Cannon and trainer Chris Gordon in the Lucketts Travel Quality Coach Hire Maiden Hurdle.
James Banks and handler Noel Williams teamed up for a 9/1 success with Friendly Society in the BetRacingNation Coming Soon To Sky 212 Handicap Chase while Crosse’s first success came on 5/1 starter Castlemorris King for Brian Barr in the Luckets Travel Holidays Of Distinction Handicap Hurdle.
Cannon’s double was completed with a thrilling late surge of a victory on The King’s Assassin (8/1), having led but then looked beaten over the last in the Bet And Watch At 888sport.com Handicap Hurdle. Reportedly, one punter on Betfair backed him at 999/1.
Crosse followed up by wrapping up his double on 12/1 contender Cypress Grove in the Cash In Early At 888sport.com Handicap Chase, while the bumper, the £88 In Free Bets At 888sport.com Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, went to No No Manolito (15/2) for Charlie Longsdon and Richard Johnson.
You can see a report and pictures from this, Fontwell’s first evening meeting of 2014, in the Observer on Thursday.
There’s more racing at the venue in the form of the Hunter Chase evening on Thursday, May 15.