All-weather bend addresses jockeys' safety concerns at Fontwell
An all-weather bend will be in use for the first time at Fontwell on Thursday after owners Arc moved to address safety issues at the West Sussex track.
The cambered Fibresand bend, which has already been successfully trialled, covers 330 metres and replaces a bend that had a reverse camber and was sometimes the scene of horses slipping up.
Due to the figure-of-eight configuration of Fontwell, horses race anti-clockwise around the outside over hurdles and clockwise around the inside bend in chases. From now on both courses will be run on the same surveyed line on the all-weather bend, similar to a project at Musselburgh.
Trials of the bend were held at the track last week and among those taking part was trainer Gary Moore, whose son Josh rode in a trial and who is due to saddle three runners on Thursday.
Moore snr said: “We send plenty of horses to Fontwell and were pleased to have the chance to be part of the trial gallop. Josh reported back that it rode well and we think it’s a great innovation by the racecourse. We look forward to racing on it.”
Jockeys’ safety officer Andrew Thornton, who was present at the trial gallop along with Moore, Tom Cannon, Mattie Batchelor and Marc Goldstein, said: “The turf bend had been of increasing concern to jockeys.
"We welcome the move by Arc to invest in the new all-weather bend, which will help ensure the safety of horses and jockeys given that it will be a consistent racing surface whatever the weather conditions.”
BHA inspector of courses Peter Hobbs added: “The feedback from the trial gallop was positive, with jockeys reporting the bend rode well. We will monitor it closely during the first meeting.”