The locally trained Quartz Du Montceau won the last race at Folkestone

Last Updated: 18/12/12 4:35pm

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Folkestone: Welcomed racegoers for the final time

Folkestone: Welcomed racegoers for the final time

Sky Bet

Many of those involved at Folkestone's final meeting expressed the sense of loss the sport would experience without the Kent venue.

There was tangible sadness among spectators, as the county no longer has a racecourse and the ease of access by the M20 motorway and the adjacent Westenhanger train station has long made it a popular stopping point for punters on the southern circuit.

A crowd of just under 2,500 gathered to bid a sombre farewell, which was close to the number attracted to Hereford's final meeting on Sunday, and was higher than recalled for the most popular meeting of the calendar, the United Hunts Cup evening in the spring, and former clerk of the course Geoff Stickels remarked he had "never seen it so busy".

The action was typically low grade, as it is during both the Flat and National Hunt seasons, but not all racing can be of Cheltenham Festival standard and jockeys and trainers praised the quality of the track itself.

The final event to be staged for the foreseeable future was the "Save The Last Race" For Eastwell Manor Handicap Chase and it produced a most fitting winner in Quartz Du Montceau.

Some spectators displayed a banner reading 'Folkestone Racecourse Rest In Anger' but there was a rousing cheer both when the tape went down and with a circuit remaining.

It provided an engrossing finish, with Marc Goldstein driving Quartz Du Montceau just half a length ahead of Mr Valentino after a gruelling three miles and a furlong.

The winner is trained not too far away in East Sussex by Diana Grissell, who said: "We had our first winner here in 1976. It's a very special place and it's appropriate we've won the last race, although I hope it's not the last race.

"Folkestone has been very lucky for me as I rode winners here, my children rode winners here and the owner, Stevie Hicks, rode his first winner here, too. He spotted this race at the start of the season."

Goldstein's father, Ray, was a well-known rider in these parts, and Goldstein jnr said: "It means a lot. This is a local course for me and it's a real shame it's closing."

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