Fontwell Park is delighted to remember one of the most popular horses to run here in recent years with this afternoon 'Fontwell Remembers The Newsman Chase' at 2:45.
One of Fontwell Park’s first course specialists of the 21st century was The Newsman. He won a novice hurdle there in 1998, the only bright spot during a two-season sequence where in his other eight races he was beaten a total of 268 lengths.
Sold to run in France, he ran much better, finishing first and second in three races before succumbing to an injury that prevented him from running for two years. Back in England, he collected place money in some modest novice chases before being sold in the summer of 2002 to Findon mushroom farmer George Wareham, who trained him as well.
George had been a jockey and later worked in various yards, including that of Ryan Price, before taking out a permit to train in 1983. He would take on a few horses down on their luck and often coaxed wins from them.
The Newsman was such a horse, and a ten year old novice chaser normally has little promise, but his very first run for George, on his 71st birthday, yielded a win at Plumpton. He won three races between two and a quarter and two and a half miles at Fontwell Park in the rest of the 2002/03 season on a variety of going with Leighton Aspell and Andrew Thornton sharing the riding, finishing with a win over hurdles to exploit his lower handicap mark over the smaller obstacles.
The new season saw another Fontwell Park hurdle win, his sixth at the course. That was his last win there, although he appeared there several more times.
The Newsman was the only horse George had in training then. He explained his unusual regime: “I ride the horse out every day and he either gallops by himself or with my dog. Sometimes the dog takes him on and sometimes it’s the other way round. There have been occasions when I've gone to the pub on him.”
The horse lost his form for a few years and retirement beckoned. But in April 2006, aged fourteen, he produced a splendid performance at Plumpton against rivals up to seven years his junior. Ridden by Mick Fitzgerald, he overtook four rivals in the straight to win by three quarters of a length. Retirement was put on hold and he carried on racing up to the end of his fifteenth year. Incredibly, he completed the course in 46 of his 50 races, and never fell.
Make sure to tune in to Sky Sports Racing to catch the Fontwell Park Remembers The Newsman Chase at 2:45.