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Racecourse Changes

The layout of the enclosures was completely reorganised in 2019 although this was not without its problems in the Picnic Enclosure.  With no café/bar at the ground floor level, racegoers had a long journey up and down stairs to make use of all the facilities.  The Racecourse implemented some temporary measures but needed a permanent solution. Work is now well underway with the conversion of the old Tote Building into a new café/bar incorporating a tote betting point and toilets. It is hoped that the new facility, costed at £205,000, will be serviceable by 7th April.

The Racecourse is also refurbishing all the Ladies toilets in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and added some new toilets where possible in each area at a cost of around £60,000.  They will also hire in the same portaloos that they hired in in July on each of the Friday evenings.

Wakefield MDC is also constructing a Health and Wellbeing Centre in the Park. This will include a 25m swimming pool, gym, tennis courts and a 3G football pitch and will provide a Café, toilets and formal parking. Work is progressing well and is on course to be completed in late Autumn of 2020.

Prize Money

Following the Government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs, the media rights income for Racecourse’s has taken a sharp drop.  Pontefract reduced their prizemoney contribution by £120,000 ahead of the 2019 season. However, they will not be making any further cuts to their contribution to Prize Money for the 2020 season which will have an overall total of £1,170,000.

The Racecourse will continue to unlock ALL the race incentive and appearance money payments for horses in all Class 4 and 5 races and all races will be run above minimum value with the lowest value race at £6,000. The prizemoney on all three Sundays will remain at at least £100,000.

On the track

There continued to be some excellent racing during the 2019 season with the Listed races well up to standard.

The Weatherbys TBA Pipalong Stakes was the standout race thanks to the subsequent achievements of the placed horses, in particular former 1,000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook, the first classic winner to grace Pontefract after having won a classic.  While the winner, Exhort (rated 99), didn’t win again in 2019, Billesdon Brook added Group 3 and Group 1 successes and was rated 116.

Bayshore Freeway (Pontefract Castle Fillies Stakes) and Marie’s Diamond (Sky Bet Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival Pomfret Stakes) gave Mark Johnston a Listed race double at Pontefract during the season and he went on to be the Course’s Leading Trainer. He equalled the most number of winners in a season when his Bo Samraan won the KC Caviar Handicap on the 21st October and he subsequently beat the record shortly afterwards.

The most valuable race of the 2019 season, the EBF Stallion Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes, went the way of David O’Meara’s Perfection and the race has a ‘solid’ look. The British Horseracing Authority have confirmed this race is one they would like to see become a Group 3.

King Carney ploughed through the mud to win the EBF Stallions.com Silver Tankard Stakes in October. Trainer, Charlie Fellowes reports the winner to have trained on well and hopes that he will make up to a solid Group performer over the course of the Summer.

One of the most successful trainers during the season was Ralph Beckett who maintained his incredible strike rate at the course of 38% in Class 1 to 4 races. He brought some extremely classy horses to the track in 2019 including Hereby, Tomfre and Max Vega (amongst others) who all look sure to make their mark in 2020.

Racedays

The Racecourse introduced Music Nights at their two Friday Evening Meetings in 2015. Following Bucks Fizz, Bananarama, Belinda Carlisle, The Bootleg Beatles and Billy Ocean, international superstars Sister Sledge will be playing at Disco Night on Friday Eve 22nd May. On Friday Eve 17th July, the Racecourse’s new ‘Queen Night’ will welcome the incredible Magic Queen to the stage. There will be the annual beer festival on the same night.

Ladies Day will be on Wednesday 5th August this year.  The winner of the Best Dressed Lady Competition will receive a week’s holiday for 2 in a Riu Resort in Mexico.  Second prize will be a weekend at the RIU Gresham in Dublin.

There are 3 Family Days once again in 2020 with the highlight being Father’s Day on Sunday 21st June. The course set a new world record at the corresponding meeting in 2019 when racegoers donned their flat caps and formed the largest human image of a dog! The track are promising further exciting initiatives for this day!

Amongst the other dates to note in 2020, there’s a free day at Ponte for pensioners on Monday 20th April and there’ll be the chance to celebrate all things Yorkshire on Tuesday 7th July on their ‘Very Yorkshire Raceday’.

Raceday Promotions and Admission

There has been no increase to the price of either the Premier or Grandstand & Paddock Enclosures but the price of the Picnic Enclosures has been increased by £1 to £7. Many racegoers have already taken advantage of the extended 50% off early bird discount which ran from 1st December until mid January. There is still 25% off until the 2nd March.

The Wall of Fame promotion returns in 2020. Anyone who visited the track in 2019 could appear on the award winning mosaic artwork which graces the Grandstand & Paddock Bar. The Wall of Fame promotion has been extended in 2020 to incorporate the new Walk of Fame. Racegoers will be able to win fantastic prizes again if they feature in either of these initiatives.

The ‘It’s Champion’ and ‘Ponte Faithful’ promotions will be back again in 2020. ‘It’s Champion’ will kick in when either the 2019 Pontefract champion trainer (Mark Johnston) or jockey (Graham Lee) win a race during 2020. For the 30 minutes following their win, a special offer will be unlocked giving discounts, freebies and special offers! The Ponte Faithful campaign rewards those who booked in advance for racing in 2019, and re-book again for a raceday in 2020.

Pontefract Annual Badge Holders can visit the National Horseracing College in 2020. A group of 50 will be taken to the yard before returning for the meeting on 29th April. With the cost of a joint Annual Badge working out at just over £8 per person per day for the whole season, the excellent Loyalty Card scheme and the FREE Yorkshire Postcode Promotion all in operation this season, there are plenty of bargains to be had.

The National Racecourse Association Showcase Awards have been going for 10 years with Pontefract previously picking up 5 Awards in that time.   Pontefract were stunned to be named the “2019 Showcase Champion” at the end of the evening.  Previously the Showcase Champion has been the likes of York, Ascot, Aintree and Newbury.

Food and Drinks

Racecourses across the country are frequently tackled about the cost of drinks charged by their catering companies. Pontefract are very aware of the rising cost of living and want to offer value to racegoers. In response to the rising costs of a pint, the Racecourse has once again decided to take the unusual step of subsidising the price of a pint of John Smiths and Fosters. This year they will cost £4.40.  This will be the lowest price on any Yorkshire Racecourse and probably at any sports stadium in the district.

With just over 5 weeks to the start of the racing season at Pontefract these are exciting times for the Racecourse who look forward to welcoming punters, new and old, back for the 2020 season.

Full details of all the Pontefract race meetings to be held this year can be found at their website on www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

A full list of Yorkshire’s race meetings can be found on our fixtures page.

Following on from Women in Racing’s well received ‘Racing Home’ symposium late last year, the workshops for women across all areas of the sport aim to raise further awareness of challenges working mothers face in the UK horseracing industry. The regional workshops, through the sharing of experiences and the resulting discussions, will ensure a more comprehensive understanding of the decisions working women face daily. 

Regional Workshop Dates:

  • Scotland – Ednam House Hotel, Kelso: Wed, 4th March 2020, 12:00 – 3:00pm
  • Midlands – Southwell Racecourse: Sun, 8th March 2020, 10.30am – 1.30pm
  • Newmarket – The Racing Centre: Mon, 23rd March 2020, 12:00 – 3:00pm
  • Lambourn – Oaksey House: Thurs, 26th March 2020, 12:00 – 3:00pm
  • Yorkshire – Pontefract Racecourse: Mon, 20th April 2020, 10.30am -1.30pm
  • London & South – Ascot Racecourse: Wed, 29th April 2020, 10.30am -1.30pm

Each regional workshop will explore in depth how it feels to be a working mother in the horseracing industry, to understand the decision making that takes place, to explore the impact of returning to work after maternity leave and examine the role that men can play.

The impact of having children and the work/life balance are topics which women are often hesitant to discuss openly as they fear it could affect their career prospects and alter their employer’s, colleagues’ or management’s perception of them. The workshops will allow stud and stable staff, racecourse employees, jockeys, vets, trainers, administrators, indeed all participants of our sport to share their experiences and contribute. In tandem with research from Oxford Brookes the workshops aim to positively impact on the day to day lives of working women in the horseracing industry.

Women in Racing Chair, Tallulah Lewis said: “Women in Racing was founded to support women across all sectors of the sport. We are extremely excited to be taking our Racing Home project through to its next phase and provide a great opportunity for women working in the sport to be part of the conversation and raise awareness of this significant topic. We are absolutely delighted to have received a grant from The Racing Foundation and also sponsorship from The Kindred Group and Oxford Brookes University without whom we would not be able to continue this work. We will continue our work to highlight topics that we believe women across the sport face and help ensure that racing can benefit from the findings of this work in the years ahead.”

Rob Hezel, Racing Foundation Chief Executive said: “The Racing Foundation are delighted to support these events. At a time when racing is struggling to attract, recruit and retain staff and when the importance of diversity in the workplace has never been better understood, efforts to secure mothers within the workforce could not be more relevant. Having successfully worked with Women in Racing and Oxford Brookes University previously we are confident they will deliver a series of successful events which we hope will contribute to the evolution of employment practices within British racing.

“At Kindred, we strongly believe that a diverse workforce enhances the quality of performance and decision-making, by covering different experiences and views. We aim to achieve a 50/50 gender split across our senior management by 2023, so we find this partnership to be hugely relevant. We focus on improving our diversity in many ways and believe this programme can help us learn more about how to ensure we keep female colleagues in the organisation. Women in Racing are doing a fantastic job at raising awareness of diversity in the Racing Industry and we are proud to support their future work”, said Anna Jein, Sustainability Manager at Kindred Group.

Dr Anne Laure Humbert, Director for the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice at Oxford Brookes Business School said: “The Centre is excited to be working with Women in Racing on this important project. Exploring the challenges working mothers face in the British horseracing industry builds directly on our 2017 report – ‘Women’s representation and diversity in the horseracing industry’ – and gives us the opportunity to create new knowledge to inform employers about the support these women need.”

For more information and registration visit www.womeninracing.co.uk

Looking back on the November night at Hamilton Park when Pontefract lifted the ultimate prize, Gundill says: “It was unbelievable. It wasn’t just the winning, it was the reception we got and the way that people seemed to be so pleased for us.

“It’s a great accolade for a small racecourse that operates with a small staff and on a limited budget. I was very humbled, not for myself but for Richard and the team. I’m not a marketing man and I’ve let him get on with that side of things, so the Showcase award is a wonderful tribute to what he’s achieved.”

Hammill too retains a sense of amazement. “It still feels surreal, because we never really considered it was something we could achieve,” he says. “I keep thinking someone is going to turn up and say, ‘OK, you’ve had it for a couple of months, now’s the time to take it away.’

Pontefract’s overall success was preceded by victory in the Events category, built on entering the Guinness Book of World Records for assembling the most number of people into the shape of a whippet at the course’s Flat Cap and Whippet family day.

Hammill explains the background: “We’re always looking for different things to do, and initially I came up with the idea of trying to break the world record for the number of people wearing flat caps. Guinness said we would need over 10,000 to qualify, and although we thought we might just about get that many for the total crowd, we couldn’t guarantee they would all be wearing flat caps. So instead, we came up with the idea of forming the shape of a whippet.

“Flat caps didn’t feature at all initially, but Guinness has strict rules about setting world records and everyone had to have matching tops and headgear, so the flat caps came back in and we did special tee shirts as a memento.”

More than 500 people were needed to set the record, and with the help of pre-meeting advertising, the final tally of 763 comfortably established a new mark.

Hammill recalls: “We found that people were booking purely to be part of the world record, and on the day, when we held the event at 1pm, racegoers were queuing to get into the area we’d set aside, looping all round the bookmakers in front of the stands, using both entrances in the paddock and the picnic area.

“We’re a very close-knit team here and all but one lady from the office, who had to take care of the phones, was out lending a hand. Even Mrs Gundill and her friend got involved handing out tee shirts.

“The fact it was a full team effort was one of the things that made it so worthwhile. We’d all had such input and ownership over the event, and there was no way it wasn’t going to succeed. We were going to set the world record come hell or high water, and we did.”

Hammill has other developments on his mind, especially after being invited to present Pontefract’s vision at a seminar organised by Horse Racing Ireland in Kilkenny in January.

“It was quite daunting,” he says. “I wasn’t only representing Pontefract but also the RCA and its champions award. I’m relatively new to speaking at events such as this, and certainly not going solo for 45 minutes to an hour. I did a practice and it only took about 35 minutes, but once I got started, they couldn’t shut me up. I suppose I’ve learned from the master, Mr Gundill.

This year, the close-knit Pontefract team will welcome a new member to their ranks with the arrival of Leeds University graduate Amber Hunt.

Hammill explains: “Mr Gundill is slowly trying to come in on fewer days, and there is a succession plan in place, but we can’t get there while I’m doing all the marketing. Amber has no background in racing, which we thought would be a benefit. We want her to bring in fresh ideas from outside, which we can use or adapt for racing.”

Hunt will eventually look at ways of expanding Pontefract’s non-raceday business, Hammill adds, saying: “At the moment we’re like a shop that only opens 16 days a year, yet we’ve got fantastic facilities, we’re in an amazing location for transport and views, plenty of parking, but the stands sit empty for most of the year. So non-raceday functions is an area we want to focus on, without taking away from the racing operation.”

Hammill is beginning to appreciate that with success comes scrutiny, which will intensify when Pontefract opens its gates for the first time in 2020 on 7th April.

“One of the things that didn’t really dawn on us immediately was the pressure that comes with winning Showcase,” he says. “While we ordinarily have ideas, a marketing plan and improvements we want to make year on year, we now have a lot of eyes on us, watching these improvements, and we have to uphold our end of the bargain by continuing to push forward and do exciting things.

“The top line and the bottom line is that we want to improve. We have probably punched above our weight and we’ll keep on punching. We are the champion racecourse, but there’s still a lot we want to do.”

Visit Pontefract Racecourse’s page to find out more about the course and their 2020 fixture list.

With thanks to the RCA for copy and picture.

Coming to the end of the school holidays and looking for something to keep the kids entertained? We have just the day for you! We know how hard it can be keeping the children occupied whilst you endure the summer holidays, and our final Family Day can finish off their holiday in style and they’re sure to be entertained all day!

Our Family Days come to a conclusion on Sunday 18th August when we will be hosting our In The Zone Family Day. Ditch the lazy Sundays and join us for a fun filled day of action on and off the course. We have some fantastic ‘zones’ for you allowing you to get close to the action and see the raceday  from many angles and also have the chance to learn a little more about different parts of the industry:

  • The industry zone – Behind the Scenes Tour in the Weighing Room from 12.30pm – 12.45pm
  • The horse zone – We will be joined by ex-racehorses and vets during a parade of ex-racers from 12.45pm
  • The quiet zone – Enjoy a free tea or coffee with us while you read the Racing Post and pick out your selections. 12.30pm – 1pm in the Betting Hall
  • The newcomers zone – New to racing? Meet our ‘Here to Help’ team who’ll show you the ropes and explain how an afternoon at the races works, on the Marquee site from 1pm
  • The tipster zone – our experts will give you some pointers on the action from 1.30pm in the Winners Enclosure
  • The kids zone – Get the kids involved with live demonstrations of horse handling and care. Watch them enjoy the Interactive Kids zone throughout the afternoon in the Picnic Enclosure.

As on all of our family days, we will have a children’s funfair, free sweets, children’s racecards, pony rides, face painting, bus trips to the start of races and loads more for the kids to enjoy. If it’s a fun day out with the family you’re after, this is the place to be. We are also hosting a ‘Kids Takeover’ day where the kids can take the reins on trying out a number of key raceday roles.

There’s some great action on track with seven fantastic races lined up. The feature of the day is our richest race of the season, the EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes for a £60,000 prize. There’s an impressive role of honour including 2015 winner, Divine, who went on to compete in Dubai.

Local business, Moor Top Farm Shop are sponsoring our third race on the card, whilst bookmakers William Hill are sponsoring two races, the fifth and six, both over a mile. Nova Display are sponsoring the final race of the day for three-year-olds over six furlongs.

Join us for our final Family Day of the season. We are offering a family ticket in advance for just £25 which admits 2 adults and their children (under 18) into the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure. To book, or view full details, please visit www.pontefract-races.co.uk to secure your tickets now.

  • Pontefract Racecourse transform their Raceday Experience offering
  • Discover a slice of contemporary city-life in the heart of Yorkshire
  • A new Guinness World RecordTM set on Flat Cap & Whippet raceday

With their recent success at the RCA Showcase & Awards it should come as no surprise to racegoers that racing at Pontefract really is a top day out. From Pizza in the Paddock, an eye-catching addition to the Owners & Trainers experience and a Guinness World RecordTM this is a racecourse striving for excellence in everything they do.

Last Sunday was a prime example of this as Pontefract hosted their Tribute Bands Family Day to bring the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival to a close. This fun-filled day featured the likes of Totally Take ThatTotOlly Murs and Classic Kylie, a tribute to pint-sized Australian megastar, and Pontefract Racecourse favourite, Kylie Minogue!

In recent years, the Pontefract Racecourse team have transformed their raceday experience for both racegoers and horses alike. Managing Director, Norman Gundill MBE and Chief Operating Officer, Richard Hammill have looked at every aspect of the site to ensure that they are always improving their racecourse experience offering.

Having completed extensive renovation work to the pre-parade, parade ring and horsewalk the Pontefract team’s 2019 challenge was to go about transforming their enclosures and stands to improve the facilities available to all racegoers. This work started in the Owners & Trainers area.

“We knew that the Owners & Trainers facilities desperately needed to be upgraded. Having canvassed opinion from local Owners and Trainers and the ROA, everyone was unanimous in their agreement that the current O&T bar was in the correct location but was just too small. We basically took a sledgehammer to the whole area and started again from scratch, taking in an old Tote position, a beer cellar and a number of storage units and redesigned the whole area to create a new facility which had, in effect, tripled in size” explained Hammill.

However, the improvements for Owners & Trainers didn’t stop there. The racecourse also forged a new partnership with local farmshop, Farmer Copleys to enhance the experience for winning connections.

“Farmer Copleys provide a gorgeous Yorkshire hamper for all winning connections and have created a new room for them to celebrate their victory.  We have had fantastic feedback following these improvements and look forward to welcoming Owners and Trainers to see the new facilities through the rest of the season” said Hammill.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t just the raceday experience for Owners & Trainers that the team at Pontefract were looking to improve. 2019 also saw the grand opening of Pontefract’s Pizza in the Paddock bar.

“Following the Raceday Experience Forum’s Revive:Live Tour, I arrived back in Pontefract armed with new ideas to transform one of our most underused bars into something more akin to what the consumer might expect to find on the high street.

“While we created a new terraced area outside the bar, the bar itself was simply refurbished to give a more contemporary look using industrial themes with brushed steel and neon featuring heavily in the design. We wanted to give the bar a clear concept and, in conjunction with our caterers, the Pizza in the Paddock bar was born serving premium lagers with a selection of bottled and cask craft ales and pizza.

“Since the bar opened on the 24th May 2019, takings have increased by at least 50% at every meeting compared with the corresponding day in 2018” said Hammill.

It isn’t just the structural improvements that have added to the raceday experience though. The team have also set about reorganising and streamlining some of the enclosures and offerings that racegoers can enjoy.

“The first change was to add a new Premier Gold experience within the Premier Enclosure, an option which included their admission, a seat for the entire race meeting and their food. We therefore created a new entry level option at £55 which utilised unused hospitality boxes.

“While availability for this new option was limited, it gave us an added sales tool to upsell. We’ve seen a huge demand for Premier Gold options at every race meeting, so much so that historically quiet midweek meetings are now fully booked” explained Hammill.

It isn’t just the improved facilities and customer packages at Pontefract that they are proud of, but their people and heritage as well. From their Racing For Generations timeline displayed across the site to their Flat Cap & Whippet Family Day the racecourse encompasses a little bit of Yorkshire spirit in everything they do.

To celebrate this Yorkshire spirit, the team at Pontefract wanted to rewrite the record books by setting a new, official Guinness World RecordTM. The challenge was to create the largest human image of a dog, and what’s more Yorkshire than a giant whippet made out of people wearing flat caps. The event saw racegoers of all ages get involved and a new record set at 691 people.

Hammill said There was such a fantastic atmosphere on the day and racegoers seemed really thrilled to have been able to be a part of it. Mums, dads and kids of all ages all took part with the youngest being just a few months old and the eldest in their 90s! Everyone who took their place will always be able to say they were part of history!”

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PONTEFRACT RACECOURSE WEDNESDAY 7th AUGUST 2019 LADIES DAY

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a new outfit, then look no further as our annual Ladies Day is just around the corner. With an array of hats, fascinators and stilettos, the ladies of Yorkshire truly do to ‘dress to impress’ in an effort to win the coveted Best Dressed Lady Competition. And once again in 2019, we’ll have a Best Dressed Gents competition which will take place before the ladies.

Both winners will be receiving top prizes with the Best Dressed Lady jetting off to the wonderful island of Jamaica, courtesy of RIU Hotels and Resorts! The runner-up of the competition will also be jetting off, as they will be heading for a luxurious three-night stay in Madrid. There is also a prize for second runner-up, who will be treated to a VIP day out at Pontefract Races. The Best Dressed Lady Competition will start around 1.15pm in the parade ring, after The Best Dressed Gent Competition has come to its conclusion. The winner of the Gents will be walking away with £350 cash in his pocket, £100 for the runner-up and £50 for second runner-up.

If you’d like to be considered for either competition, then the Heart Angels will be on the lookout for the Best Dressed Racegoers from the minute the gates open at 12noon and will allocate numbered cards to lucky finalists. The judging gets under way for the Best Dressed Gentlemen in the Parade Ring at 1pm and the prestigious Best Dressed Lady Competition starts at 1.15pm. This year’s panel is made up of Heart Drivetime Show hosts, Dixie and Emma, the National Business Manager for RIU, Maria Battersby and last year’s Best Dressed Lady winner, Lisa McArdle.

The Racecourse is urging anyone wishing to be considered for either of the Best Dressed competitions to arrive early so they don’t miss out. There is a further incentive of arriving early, as the first 500 ladies through the Premier Enclosure entrance will be welcomed with a glass of bubbly on the house, as part of the track’s #Magic500 promotion.

There’s some great action on track with seven fantastic races lined up. The feature on the day is tiesplanet.com – Ladies Love Guys In Ties Handicap for a £15,000 prize. There’s an impressive role of honour with 2016 winner, Stars Over The Sea, going on to win last year’s Cesarewitch Trial Handicap at Newmarket.

Our final evening meeting of the season takes place at Pontefract on Friday 19th July and is the second night of our Music Night Series, accompanied by our Red Shirt Night and Beer Festival. It promises to be a fantastic evening with six great races followed by the UK’s best Abba tribute band, Fabba Girls, performing after the conclusion of the last race.

We will be raising money for the incredible Injured Jockeys Fund through Jack Berry’s historic ‘Red Shirt Night’. The Red Shirt is purely optional – just bring yourself, your friends and your party spirit. This amazing charity has helped injured jockeys get back to race riding fitter and quicker than imagined.

We welcome back a whole host of old friends for our Beer Festival. Pennie Brewery, Revolutions Brewing Co, Ossett Brewery and Bier Huis will all be joining us, where they will be offering some of the best beers, lagers and ales that Yorkshire has to offer.

The feature on track is the VW Volkswagen Van Centre (Leeds) Ltd Optional Handicap Stakes run over a mile, and was won last year by Waarif in a competitive race. Waarif has gone on to register four wins over the same distance, the most recent at Windsor at the end of June.

Our third race on the card, the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap Stakes, will catch the eye of racing fans, having produced horses that have gone on to perform at the highest level. The race is run over 5f and last year was won by Watchable, who cruised home to win by a 1½ lengths for David O’Meara. Final Venture won this race in 2016 and just five months later headed to Meydan (Dubai), and won twice there for his current trainer Paul Midgley, who boasts an impressive four wins in this race.

The meeting kicks off with the Lucy Steven’s 30th Birthday Celebrations EBF Novice Auction Stakes for 2-year olds. This will be third running of the race and Richard Fahey’s Metallic Black won this convincingly by 4 lengths last year to Forcetoreckon.

The final race on the card is the John Nixon Supports Jack Berry House Handicap Stakes, run over 6 furlongs, which was won by Etikaal last year, steered home by the season’s leading jockey at Pontefract Ben Curtis. After the conclusion of this race, the critically acclaimed Fabba Girls will be performing on the raised grass area next to the Parade Ring. If you want a night out with racing, music and a beer festival, this is the place for you. Head to www.pontefract-races.co.uk to secure your tickets now!

The inaugural ‘Art of Racing’ Raceday won an award at the prestigious Showcase Awards in 2016 for it’s unique innovation and the second of our Art of Racing Racedays in 2019 takes place at Pontefract on Tuesday 9th July. It once again promises to be a brilliant day for both racing fanatics and those going racing for the first time as the race meeting celebrates everything we know and love about The Sport of Kings!

For those who think they know a bit about racing, the Racecourse are looking for 7 guest tipsters to preview one race each on the day. These form experts will then visit the course on the day to share their knowledge to other racegoers before their race takes place! Pontefract are also looking for those with a keen eye for the horse to join them to pick out the Best Turned Out Horse in each race as well. If you’d like to be considered for either of these roles, please contact the Racecourse on 01977 781307 or email info@pontefract-races.co.uk. Spaces are limited.

There will also be a beginner’s commentary booth for people to have a go at commentating on a race ‘behind the scenes’ – everyone taking part will be able to take home a recording of their commentary! With bus trips to see the starts down at the start as well, it’s going to be a fun packed day with plenty going on!

The feature on the track is the Weatherbys General Stud Book Pipalong Stakes – named after one of the best northern sprinting fillies in recent years. The race always produces a decent filly or mare as it’s the last opportunity for the fairer sex to gain Listed ‘black type’ over this trip. Indeed, the role call of former winners includes the likes of Chorist, Red Bloom and Gifted Girl who all went on to compete at the highest level. The 2018 winner was Clon Coulis for the David Barron team who went on to win another Listed race at Ascot last year before being agonisingly beaten a nose in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot in June.

The meeting kicks off with The Dianne Nursery handicap for 2-year olds. It’s one of the first handicaps for 2 year olds to be run in the country in 2019. The 2018 winner Octave took the contest last year ½ length from William Haggas’ Red Hut Red.

The Pontefract Sports and Education Foundation hold a charity event throughout this day and three of the races on the card are sponsored by their supporters. Sochall Smith Chartered Accounts, Pontefract Squash & Leisure Club and Atlas Leisure Homes Ltd are all fervent supporters of the foundation who aim to promote the advancement of education and sport amongst the underprivileged and disadvantaged in the Pontefract and District area.

There’s a varied supporting card including the 35th running of the £15,000 King Richard lll Stakes Handicap. The race commemorates the granting of a Royal Charter to the Borough of Pontefract in 1484 and the successful owner will receive a perpetual challenge trophy provided by Pontefract Civic Society. Ower Fly and Watchable fought out the finish in 2017 with Ruth Carr’s inmate getting the verdict.

The Racecourse Postcode Lottery gives the opportunity for anyone based in the Leeds area to come racing for free. By sending a stamped addressed envelope to the Racecourse, residents with an ‘LS’ postcode can get a ticket to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure free of charge

With Royal Ascot grabbing many of the sporting headlines this week, Pontefract Racecourse is keeping its feet firmly on the ground with a proper Yorkshire Family Day out with a twist. While there’s high fashion, top hats and morning suits for racing at Royal Ascot, Pontefract host a very Yorkshire ‘Flat Cap and Whippet’ Family Day on Sunday 23rd June.

Aside from some fantastic horse racing action on the track, Pontefract will be involved in a new Guinness World Records ™ attempt to create the largest human image of a dog!

With family days a firm fixture in the Pontefract racing calendar, the Racecourse is embracing it’s Yorkshire heritage and will stage whippet racing before the first race and ferret racing through the afternoon as well as encouraging racegoers of all ages to come racing and bring along their flat cap.

The exciting Guinness World Records ™ attempt will take place at 1.15pm on Sunday 23rd June and racegoers are encouraged to take part in creating the shape of a huge ‘whippet’ which will be laid out on the lawns in front of the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure. To set the record, the Racecourse will be looking for between 500 and 750 people to get involved. Racegoers will need to make sure that they have a flat cap and will be presented with a commemorative t-shirt to wear for the attempt which they will be able to keep and cherish to remember the day!

It’s a brilliant opportunity for Yorkshire racegoers to claim their spot in history and be a part of the attempt to set an incredible record with Guinness World Records ™ as well as have a fantastic day out.

The first of three popular Family Day race meetings at Pontefract in 2019 is just around the corner with Flat Cap and Whippet Day on Sunday 23rd June.

There are 7 fantastic horse races but there are tonnes of exciting things to do before the horses take centre stage.

The gates open at 11.30am and we’ve got a thrilling day lined up including an official Guinness World Records ® attempt to form the largest human image of a dog. The attempt will take place at 1.15pm and the Racecourse will be asking Racegoers to form the outline of a whippet!

In keeping with the day, if you’d like to take part in this record-breaking attempt, you’ll need to be wearing a flat cap. Racegoers wanting to get involved should arrive early and meet at the back of the Second Stand at around 1pm where they will be given further instruction by safety marshals on the day.

There’s an added incentive to wear your flat cap too – the first 500 people sporting theirs will pick up either a free drinks voucher, a free bet or a free racecard!

Before then, whippets from the Yorkshire Pedigree Whippet Racing Club will take to the Racecourse from 12.30pm as they set the scene for their equine counterparts later in the afternoon. With around 30 whippets racing over a series of races, it’s going to be a fast and furious way to start proceedings!

Whippets and horses are not the only races taking place – a team of ferrets will also be stepping into the spot light with racing in the Picnic Enclosure throughout the afternoon!

As has become tradition on Sundays at Pontefract, young racegoers will be well looked after throughout the day – especially in the Picnic Enclosure where there are kids rides, a circus, face painting and free activity books and racecards.

Eagle eyed kids need to look out for the Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it! There are also free Pony rides as well – plenty to keep even the most active little ones occupied while mum and dad enjoy some top class racing.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens down at the start of races – in the calm before the race explodes in to action – then you’ll be able to pick up our free minibus which will take you down to the starting stalls where you’ll see the horses and jockeys in the moments before the race starts. The minibus will bring you straight back after the race. Available for any race over 5f or 6f, it provides a fascinating insight into what goes on in the open space of the Parkland.

On the track, the £50,000 Listed Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes is the highlight. The race was won last year by Ralph Beckett’s Isabel De Urbina who got up in the shadows of the post to deny Alwaysandforever.

It’s always a competitive affair with some of the toughest middle distance fillies in training. The 2019 Pontefract Stayers Championship is also shaping up to be a really competitive affair and Round 4 is the Stephane Osborne Pontefract Cup. Micky Hammond normally has a strong hand in these races and his ‘Becky The Thatcher’ took the championship last season despite just being touched off in this race.

As always Family Tickets (£25) are available in advance for 2 adults and their children along with a range of alternative packages. Please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.20pm, and the gates open at 11.30am!

Glamour, sophistication and socialising are all synonymous with a day at the races, but it is ramped up when it comes to Ladies Day.

Each of the nine racecourses in Yorkshire will be offering superb prizes for their Best Dressed Lady. The first competition is at Wetherby on Thursday, May 30 and they continue across Yorkshire throughout the summer before the final Ladies Day at Doncaster on Friday, September 13.

These are exciting days when everyone gets the chance to dress to impress and, uniquely in Yorkshire, all nine winners are invited to attend a Grand Final at Doncaster on Saturday, October 26 where they and their guest will be wined and dined in a private box for the day as well as having the chance to be crowned Go Racing In Yorkshire’s Best Dressed Lady 2019.

In addition to the title, the winner will take home a diamond ring worth £2,000 from loveVintageDiamonds.com, a two-night spa break at the Best Western Mount Pleasant Hotel and a £500 clothing voucher from new sponsor, Incognito.

So just what do you wear for Ladies Day? For Malton racehorse trainer Ruth Jefferson, choosing an outfit on a normal race day is fairly standard.

“I had 15 pairs of the same brand of black trousers at the last count,” said Ruth, when asked how she plans what to wear for the races. “Being practical is a must, there’s no point wearing a skirt that’s too tight for me to leg the jockey up!”

However, when it comes to special occasions like Ladies Day, Ruth who took over the training licence from her late father Malcolm, admits she needs a bit of help.

After an invite to Royal Ascot last year was followed up with a social media post along the lines of, “Can I wear trousers to Royal Ascot? Mum says no but I haven’t got a dress,” it was evident a spot of shopping was required!

Like all trainers, Ruth puts the needs of the horses and staff before herself and while she likes to keep an eye on the fashion scene, having the time to follow it up comes way down the ‘to do’ list.

“I need to be smart yet comfortable and able to work. It’s a balance between being able to be hands on with the horses but presentable to the owners and in the racecourse enclosures. I only wear white trousers if we’re running a grey!” Ruth added.

Just what to wear is an age-old problem for female racegoers, but fashion boutique, Incognito can certainly come up with the answer. The business which is now based in Bawtry has been in existence for over 30 years and has a keen racing clientele.

“Doncaster racecourse is just up the road and both my sister and I are regular attendees” said Jackie Reynolds, joint partner.

“We stock collections from very well-known designer brands, plus we are always careful to guide clients as we know that friends will be attending the same social events and don’t want to be wearing the same dress as someone else. Our personal service also helps to mitigate any fashion faux pas!” she added.

The boutique has a range of styles for all tastes and the sisters have an eye for knowing what will suit clients as soon as they walk through the door. With so much variety and expert guidance, finding the perfect outfit for Ladies Day will not be a problem.

Jackie and her sister Bernie took on the challenge of kitting out Ruth in garments that are both practical and stylish and did so with fantastic results.

“I live in jodhpurs and a fleece, so it’s really nice to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ve worn things at Incognito that I wouldn’t normally pick up in a shop and I’m pleasantly surprised by the outcome!” said Ruth, who also put herself in the hands of students from the White Rose College of Beauty for her hair and make-up.

“I definitely look younger and must try harder on a daily basis,” she joked when she saw the final result.

However, it wasn’t all about work as Jackie and Bernie prepared a glamorous look for Ruth and her mum Sue in readiness for their annual trip to York’s Ebor meeting in August, when Ladies Day is on Thursday, August 22.

“We’ve always loved going to York,” said Sue, “it’s a fantastic racecourse and it comes at a time when we are less busy at home so can relax and enjoy ourselves among colleagues and friends”.

While the outfits are the main focus of attention it is the accessories that enhance the detail. The winner of the Best Dressed Lady Final will have the perfect accompaniment as she sports a glistening 1920’s vintage ring made of 18 carat white gold from loveVintageDiamonds.com.

The two-stone twist crown is set with oval, cushion-shaped, rose-cut diamonds of the period and the total diamond weight is approximately 0.70 carats with a value of £2,000!

The winner will be able to tie in their trip to Incognito with a two night stay in a Spa Suite at the Best Western Mount Pleasant Hotel, a stay which includes champagne and home-made chocolates produced by the hotel’s own chocolatier on arrival, dinner with wine in the newly-refurbished Brassiere Artisan from the Table D’Hote menu, a full English breakfast on both days as well as a luxury fruit basket and Espa gift bag.

Helen McIlroy, of the Mount Pleasant Hotel said, “Given our proximity to Doncaster Racecourse we regularly have owners and trainers staying with us for the races or the sales and like to offer them some high-end luxury, whether their visit is for pleasure or for work purposes. It’s fitting that we should be able to offer something similar to Go Racing In Yorkshire’s Best Dressed Lady.”

Evening meetings are always extremely popular at Pontefract and the first of three this season is 80s Night on Friday Evening 24th May. It’s the first of two Music Nights (the other being on Friday Evening 19th July) and with one of the world’s biggest international male soloists from the 80s, Billy Ocean, playing after the last race, it promises to be the best 80’s Night yet!

Billy Ocean has sold over 30 million records in his lifetime to date. With number one hits in the UK, USA, Australia, Germany and Holland, he’s achieved extraordinary success as both an artist and songwriter.

Born in Trinidad, Billy settled in London’s East End when he was just seven and was quickly inspired by the likes of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
His first big break came when ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ reached No. 2 in the UK charts and No. 12 in the US. Other huge hits, including ‘Red Light Spells Danger’, followed on, before the million selling, Grammy Award winning, US Number 1 ‘Caribbean Queen’, ‘Loverboy’ and ‘Suddenly’.

There were even more huge hits with ‘When The Going Gets Tough (the tough get going)’ and ‘There’ll Be Sad Songs (to make you cry)’ before the now classic ‘Get Outta My Dreams; Get Into My Car’ gave Billy his third US No. 1.

With a back catalogue like this, the 24th May promises to be one of the best music nights that Pontefract has ever seen! With tickets limited, Racegoers are encouraged to secure their place early.

On the track, the highlight is the 6 furlong £25,000 EBF VW Van Centre [Leeds] Ltd Youngsters Conditions Stakes. There is an impressive list of previous winners and last year’s victor, Ninetythreetwenty, went on to finish 6th to Calyx at Royal Ascot and has now been sold to continue his racing career in Hong Kong. The race always attracts some interesting and precocious juveniles looking to stake their claim for Royal Ascot glory the following month.

The Racecourse welcome back Alamo Business Systems, Constant Security and Napoleons Casino Bradford who are all continuing their generous sponsorship of races at the West Yorkshire track.

There’s also a special mention for Virginia Beardsley who will be celebrating a very special birthday at the Course on this day!

If you’re bringing a car to this meeting, don’t forget to pick up your voucher for two free bottles of Harrogate Spa Spring Water water. Keep an eye out for the Ponte team handing out vouchers in the car parks. You’ll be able to redeem these at any of the ‘Designated Driver’ points around the Racecourse.

It’s going to be a fantastic night of racing, laughter, music and nostalgia and many racegoers will be taking advantage of the fact that the dress code is relaxed on this night when they pick out their best fancy dress outfit and hope to pick up one of the spot prizes provided by tiesplanet.com!

There are still discounted tickets available. The Premier Enclosure badges are currently £23 while Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure tickets are £15 – both prices include the concert after racing. Entrance tickets bought on the night will be full price (£25 and £17 respectively) so make sure you get your tickets before the night! Advance tickets can be purchased via the racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk or over the phone on 01977 781307.

Wednesday 1st May is a day when Pontefract traditionally looks to the future stars of racing, both human and equine. It’s the 30th Annual Northern Racing College Charity Day!

The race meeting is unique in the fact that the majority of the card sees races sponsored by different bookmakers who traditionally set aside their commercial rivalry on this day in order to encourage the grass roots and future of the sport.

The Northern Racing College, based just outside Doncaster, was set up in 1984 and provides a range of courses at all levels for people who are looking at the horseracing industry as a future career. It also offers those currently in the business the chance to develop their qualifications and skills.

The racing on the day casts an eye to future stars. The opening 2yo Novice Stakes, sponsored by EBF and William Hill is historically an informative event. The race was won a few years ago by the subsequent globetrotting superstar, Peniaphobia, a regular in Group 1 races in Hong Kong in recent years. Kevin Ryan took the race with Celebrity Dancer last year who himself looks to be pretty smart and went on to be placed in the valuable Goffs yearling sales race at York. In fact, Kevin Ryan could be a trainer to keep an eye out for on this day – he trained three winners on this day last year with Kings Full and Savannah Moon adding to his tally!

The 3yo Maiden on the card also has a rich history – John Gosden’s Royal Ascot winner ‘Remote’ made his debut in this a few years ago while last year, Mark Johnston’s Making Miracles was just touched off before continuing rapid improvement throughout the season running in some of the most competitive long distance handicaps around at Royal Ascot and York. We’ll be on the lookout for another superstar to hit the Ponte turf this year.

Again, looking ahead to the stars of tomorrow, the card concludes with the 3rd Round of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Handicap. Last year’s winner Foxtrot Knight was ridden by Sebastian Woods. The jockey now rides for the yard of champion Pontefract trainer, Richard Fahey.

As always seems to be the case, Fahey himself had a winner on the card last year and if he can win again this year he will unlock the “It’s Champion” Promotion, where for half an hour after the winner has been announced a special offer will be available to all racegoers on course. This promotion also applies if Danny Tudhope (Pontefract 2018 Champion Jockey) rides a winner at the course in 2019.

The Racecourse Postcode Lottery gives the opportunity for anyone based in Sheffield to come racing for free. By sending a Stamped Addressed envelope to the Racecourse, residents can get a ticket to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure (Only 100 tickets available).

The Racecourse will once again be offering discounted tickets to those who book in advance – see www.pontefract-races.co.uk for more information.

There’s a quick turnaround in the race meetings at Pontefract with the second meeting of the season taking place on Monday 15th April when the equine equivalent of the London Marathon, the Pontefract Marathon, is one of the highlights on a 7 race card.

The first two year race of the season at Pontefract is The Farmer Copleys GFF Farm Shop of the Year 2019 EBF Novice Stakes. The race title celebrates the new partnership between the Racecourse and award winning local Farm Shop Farmer Copleys, who will be supplying a luxury Yorkshire hamper to the winning connections in every race at Pontefract in 2019. The race went the way of John Quinn’s ‘Carey Street’ in 2018. Trainer John Quinn will be hosting Pontefract Annual Badge Holders on the yearly stable visit later in the season.

There’s £25k up for grabs in the RIU Hotels and Resorts Handicap. The race was fought out by Foolaad and El Astronaute last year with the former just getting the better of the argument. It’s a race that always throws up future winners and is one to keep an eye on. RIU Hotels and Resorts will be back at Pontefract later in the year when they sponsor the Best Dressed Lady competition in August. This year, the winning lady will win an all inclusive holiday to Jamaica!

The ‘Into The Sky’ Pontefract Marathon Handicap – run over 2m5½ furlongs – is the longest flat race handicap run in the country and forms the second leg of the Stayers Championship. Micky Hammond has been farming the series in recent years and he has several horses in mind for the 2019 Championship. The ‘Into The Sky’ Company are a group of young adults with learning difficulties who currently use the Racecourse every Friday for their music and drama rehearsals.

The 6f Maiden has thrown up some decent winners in the past and David O’Meara has won divisions of the race in the last two years with Black Isle Boy in 2017 and Three Saints Bay in 2018. Trainers love to target races that they’ve been successful in in the past and any representative from the O’Meara yard should be noted. This race is run in honour of long standing member of staff, Richard Pemberton, who has worked at the track for 30 years, including a spell as Head Groundsman. We hope that he has a very long and happy retirement.

Napoleons Casino Bradford return to Pontefract for the third year with a programme of another 5 sponsored races at the track in 2019. While the Golden Horseracing Club sponsor two races on the card promoting racehorse ownership with their fantastic club.

The Racecourse are continuing their Postcode Lottery promotion in 2019 and those living in York can pick up a free ticket for this meeting if they register before the day. All postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year.

There’s never been a better reason to go racing more often!

With Spring here and Summer just around the corner, the flat season roars back in to action at Pontefract with a quality race meeting on Tuesday 9th April. With £78,000 worth of prize money on offer, the card often throws up some impressive early season types. With the first two meetings falling in the Easter holidays for some, in time honoured tradition, there’ll be plenty of free sweets or Easter treats available for kids!

The Racecourse have extended and refurbished the Owners & Trainers facilities at the Racecourse with the aim of attracting more owners to Pontefract and improving the calibre of the racing. The ROA (Racehorse Owners Association) are sponsoring the entire card to promote the industry and the improvements that have been made over the Winter.

The highlight of the racing programme is the £25,000 Sponsorship for ROA Members Handicap over 1m 2f. While the race meeting was lost to waterlogging last year, a classy field assembled for the 2017 renewal. The winner was the subsequent Royal Ascot victor, Snoano, who took the honours for Malton trainer Tim Easterby.

The £15,000 1m4f EBF Maiden on this day has a rich roll of honour. Luca Cumani’s ‘High–Rise’ won this race on his way to victory in the Epsom Derby and lends his name to this race. Above Normal won the 2017 contest for Saeed Bin Suroor and Godolphin. He’s been winning in Dubai over the Winter – will 2019 unleash a potential superstar?

Of all the races run over the years at Pontefract, the Stayers races evoke the strongest memories among the race going public. With course favourites like Dan Buoy, Jamaican Flight and Bluff Cove all laden with stamina, the Stayers Championship has proved a popular addition to the racing programme in recent seasons. Becky The Thatcher was the Champion last year meaning that her trainer, Micky Hammond, has won the championship for three of the last 4 years. He’s got a few lined up for the Championship again in 2019 and they should be monitored closely!

The award winning ‘Wall of Fame’ promotion is back at the course for 2019. Racegoers who visited in 2018 may already have spotted their face on the website dedicated to the promotion (www.pontefract-races.co.uk/walloffame ) but the life size artwork will be unveiled in the Paddock Bar at the opening race meeting of the year. Anyone spotting themselves will be able to claim a prize from the Office on any raceday during the season. With 462 faces on show, there are plenty of great prizes to be won!  The ‘Ponte Faithful’ promotion is also back again offering vouchers and discounts for those who booked for race meetings in both 2018 and 2019.

Those with a Harrogate postcode can pick up a free ticket for this meeting if they register for the Racecourse Postcode Lottery scheme before the day – all postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year. Full details are available on the website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk .

It’s been over 5 months since there was last racing at Pontefract and after a particularly testing year in 2018 the West Yorkshire track is getting ready to kick off their 16 day campaign on Tuesday, 9th April.

Managing Director, Norman Gundill MBE, explained to guests at the course’s annual Press Lunch how, despite one of the hottest, driest Summers in history in 2018, the Racecourse still fell foul of the elements with the first meeting of last season abandoned due to waterlogging and rain falling on 10 of the other 15 racedays. The hot, sunny weather between race meetings also had a huge impact on the number of horses running on the track with the ground often being unseasonably quick and the extremes in weather resulted in a drop in total attendances through the season.

Looking ahead to the season ahead, however, Norman Gundill outlined some exciting plans and, in particular, some fantastic new developments in the Enclosures at the forward thinking West Yorkshire track.

Racecourse Changes

Following on from the large scale renovation to the Pre-Parade Ring, Parade Ring and Horsewalk over the last two years, the Racecourse has carried out a number of improvements to the Enclosures in 2019.

The first thing that racegoers will notice is the changes to the layout. Both the Premier and Grandstand & Paddock Enclosures have been increased in size and the old Silver and Picnic Enclosures have been amalgamated to form one new, large Picnic Enclosure. With more room available in each of the updated enclosures, the new layout provides a better set up for all racegoers.

In conjunction with the changes to the Enclosures, the old ‘Riders Bar’ is being completely refurbished and renamed ‘Pizza In The Paddock’ and will open in time for the first evening race meeting of the season on Friday Eve 24th May. Offering freshly cooked pizzas and craft ale, the ‘Pizza In the Paddock’ will also have a brand new large terraced area offering racegoers more seating and a fantastic alternative location to watch the racing.

Owners and Trainers visiting Pontefract in 2019 will also have a new facility as their old bar has been almost tripled in size by taking in and knocking through ‘behind the scenes’ storage areas as well as an old tote building. Improving the calibre of horse running at Pontefract is high on the wish list of the executive and to achieve this, the Racecourse is mindful that their offering for Owners must live up to their expectations.

There will also be a new Wi-Fi system with racegoers being able to connect to a hugely improved, faster system.

Wakefield MDC will also construct a Health and Wellbeing Centre in the Park. This will include a 25m swimming pool, gym, tennis courts and a 3G football pitch and will provide a Café, toilets and formal parking giving the Park a much needed daily focal point. Work is due to start shortly and to be completed in the Autumn of 2020. Parking for Racegoers will be altered with immediate effect.

Prize Money

The Government’s decision firstly to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2, and secondly to bring forward the introduction date to 1 April has, as anyone who follows the sport will know, caused considerable consternation, and has resulted in much speculation about the number of Betting Shops which will close and the effect that will have on Media Rights income.  The only certainty is that, for the first time since Media Rights income became significant, there will be a noticeable downturn in income. With prize money having to be committed before knowing what the Media Rights income will be, Racecourse prize money has featured heavily in the pages of the racing press recently.

The provisional total prizemoney budget for Pontefract in 2019 will be just under £1.2million (down from £1.3million in 2018). This will, however, be monitored closely and, if the projected reduction in Media Rights income does not materialise, the Racecourse will reinstate some of the reductions.

Although the Racecourse’s contribution has reduced, they will still be unlocking ALL the race incentive and appearance money payments for horses in all Class 4 and 5 races. All races will still be run above minimum value and the prizemoney on all three Sundays will remain at at least £100,000.

On the track

Despite the challenges of 2018, there was some excellent racing during the season.

The Listed race winners were of a good standard with Manuela De Vega, trained by Ralph Beckett and ridden by Harry Bentley, the standout performer in the EBF Silver Tankard Stakes. She finished the season unbeaten with a two year old rating of 99. She is generally quoted at around 25-1 for the Epsom Oaks.

Clon Coulis, trained by David Baron and ridden by Ben Curtis, ended the season with a rating of 101 following her win in the Weatherbys Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract and a follow up in another Listed race at Ascot.

Isabel De Urbina, also trained by Ralph Beckett and ridden by Harry Bentley, won the totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes and had a solid record in Listed races and ended her season rated 99.   Similar comments also apply to Big Country, trained by Mick Appleby and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa, who won the Skybet Go Racing in Yorkshire Pomfret Stakes and ended his season with a rating of 109.

Pontefract have been hoping to upgrade their flagship Listed Race, the EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes to a Group 3 for some time. In a year when Mabs Cross was a standout sprinting filly, a field of fillies and mares made up of those that regularly competed in both Group and Handicap races, was assembled for the 2018 renewal but there was something of a shock when Castle Hill Cassie, trained by Ben Haslam and ridden by Graham Lee, took the honours at 20-1. Her mark has now risen to 100 following more improved performances, and she continues to look as though she can improve on her mark granted her ideal conditions. The rating was, however, not sufficient to enable the track to upgrade the race for the 2019 season but the prize money for this race will be £60,000 once again.

The Racecourse were robbed of another big Mark Johnston headline (following his 4,000th winner being at Pontefract) when he had a chance to break the record for the most winners when Lynwood Gold lined up on the 29th July. Unfortunately the horse hadn’t read the script and stayed in the stalls, giving the others a near 20 length start.

Racedays

The Racecourse introduced Music Nights at their two Friday Evening Meetings in 2015. Following Bucks Fizz, Bananarama, Belinda Carlisle and The Bootleg Beatles, the incredible Billy Ocean will be playing on 80s Night on Friday Eve 24th May. On Friday Eve 19th July, the Racecourse’s new Abba Night will welcome one of the UK’s best Abba Tribute bands to the stage. There will be the annual beer festival on the same night.

Ladies Day will be on Wednesday 7th August this year.  The winner of the Best Dressed Lady Competition will receive a week’s holiday for 2 in a Riu Resort in Jamaica.  Second prize will be a weekend at the new Riu Hotel in Madrid.

Raceday Promotions and Admission

There has been no increase to the price of either the Premier or Grandstand & Paddock Enclosures but the price of the new large Picnic Enclosures has been increased by £1. Many racegoers have already taken advantage of the extended 50% off early bird discount which ran from 1st December until mid January. There is still 25% off until the 4th March.

Racegoers will also be able to win fantastic prizes again in the Wall of Fame promotion. Anyone who visited the track in 2018 could appear on the award winning mosaic artwork which graces the Grandstand & Paddock Bar.

The two promotions which were unveiled in 2018 – The ‘It’s Champion’ and ‘Ponte Faithful’ promotions will be back again in 2019. ‘It’s Champion’ will kick in when either the 2018 Pontefract champion trainer (Richard Fahey) or jockey (Danny Tudhope) win a race during 2019. For the 30 minutes following their win, a special offer will be unlocked giving discounts, freebies and special offers! The Ponte Faithful campaign rewards those who booked in advance for racing in 2018, and re-book again for a raceday in 2018.

John Quinn will host the Pontefract Annual Badge Holders visit in 2019. A group of 50 will be taken to the yard before returning for the meeting on 1st July, hopefully armed with a few winners! With the cost of a joint Annual Badge working out at just over £8 per person per day for the whole season, the excellent Loyalty Card scheme and the FREE Yorkshire Postcode Promotion all in operation this season, there are plenty of bargains to be had.

Recycling

With a nationwide emphasis on waste disposal and recycling the Racecourse has teamed up with Wakefield MDC who have facilities to screen and sort all waste to ensure maximum recycling.  Wakefield MDC guarantee that everything that can be recycled will be and the remainder will be used in other sustainable methods.  0% of our waste will therefore go to landfill.

To support this campaign, the Racecourse have also teamed up with artist James Owen Thomas who has produced four original sets of artwork using nothing but old marketing literature, badges and tickets which are being used on all our publicity material.  The artwork will be on display through the season with details of the painstaking amount of work that James has carried out.

Food and Drinks

Racecourses across the country are frequently tackled about the cost of drinks charged by their catering companies. Pontefract are very aware of the rising cost of living and want to offer value to racegoers. In response to the rising costs of a pint, the Racecourse has once again decided to take the unusual step of subsidising the price of a pint of John Smiths and Fosters. This year they will cost £4.40.  This will be the lowest price on any Yorkshire Racecourse and probably at any sports stadium in the district.

With just over 5 weeks to the start of the racing year at Pontefract these are exciting times for the Racecourse who look forward to welcoming punters, new and old, back for the 2019 season.

Full details of all the Pontefract race meetings to be held this year can be found at their website on www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

pontefract Racecourse is delighted to announce they have been named as a Finalist for the prestigious Showcase & Awards, hosted by the Racecourse Association (RCA).
The Showcase & Awards is the marquee event of British racecourses that annually celebrates first class customer experience in partnership with Moët Hennessy, Racing Breaks, Racing Post and Great British Racing.
Pontefract Racecourse has been listed as a Finalist in both the Best Campaign and #TopSpot categories. From the five Finalists the winner will be revealed at the Showcase & Awards ceremony on Thursday 8th November at Aintree Racecourse.
The Best Campaign category celebrates excellence in the sphere of marketing, increasing the appeal of racing to new audiences and improving the frequency of visits amongst customers. Entries were asked to demonstrate the clear strategy and execution used for the campaign by means of a multi-tiered approach to engage with a target audience.
The #TopSpot Award is looking for standalone initiatives, large or small, that enrich the racecourse brand and/or raceday experience for customers. They should be ‘shareable’ ideas to enable other racecourses to use the best practice. To enter racecourses had to tweet an image to @RCAShowcase using #TopSpot and a brief description.
Richard Hammill, Chief Operating Officer at Pontefract Racecourse, said: “We’re thrilled to be shortlisted for these two awards. The Showcase Event is a huge date in the Racecourse’s diary and it’s a great honour for Pontefract to be listed alongside some of the biggest and best Racecourses in the country and to have our marketing programme recognised. We’ve been fortunate enough to win awards at the event in the past and we will continue to focus our efforts on improving Pontefract for all its customers.”
Caroline Davies, RCA Racecourse Services Director, said, “I am thrilled for Pontefract Racecourse for their success in being named a Finalist at the 2018 Showcase & Awards.
“It is one of the most exciting times of year to see the Showcase submissions go before the judges to demonstrate the care and attention given to enhancing the raceday experience
“I extend my congratulations to the team for their hard work in securing this achievement as one of our Finalists and wish them the best of luck ahead of the Awards ceremony at Aintree Racecourse on Thursday 8th November.”

 The third of the All About the Racing Racedays is held at Pontefract Racecourse on Monday 8th October. With just shy of a month left in the 2018 flat calendar, trainers are looking to finish their horses’ campaigns off in good style. Expect plenty of competitive and thrilling racing and some great perks!

On Monday 8th October, there are 7 exciting races on the card which get underway at 2.05pm.  The track holds a 1m2f two-year-old race which is one of the longest two-year-old races run in the UK. With a stiff finish, Ponte is one of the more testing courses in Britain and a tough gritty horse is needed. The first two home in last year’s event, Austrian School and Making Miracles have both proved themselves to be strong, talented stayers for the countries winningmost trainer, Mark Johnston. Both now have ratings of 100 or more and have competed in some of the best staying handicap races in 2018. Who will add their name to the role of honour this year?

The feature race on the card is the £15,000 Leslie Burton (Fisher) Handicap which was won last year by Richard Hannon’s The Grape Escape who was campaigned in some of the best handicaps in Dubai over the winter. There’s also the penultimate round of the 2018 Pontefract Stayers Championship in which Micky Hammond’s Becky The Thatcher looks to have an unassailable advantage. This round of the Stayers Championship produced one of the finishes of the year in 2017 when the enigmatic Madam Lilibet put her best foot forward to win her final race before being retired to stud.

We also caught glimpse of a future Grade 2 placed juvenile hurdler when Cornerstone Lad took the 1m4f handicap. There may be a few future hurdlers lurking amongst the entries again this season.

On the remaining two racedays, there’ll be a soapbox for punters to have their say on what they think has a great winning chance as well as a guest racecard tipster to point you in the direction of a few winners! We’ll also have a guest pundit on the day to guide you through the runners in the Parade Ring and offer valuable guidance and knowledge about the days’ equine action.

Early Bird discounted advanced tickets are available on the courses website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk , and, as part of the All About The Racing theme, if 4 or more tickets are booked for this race meeting, you can pick up a FREE Timeform from the Racecourse Office to help to study the form.

For more information about the day, visit the course website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk

The second of the All About the Racing Racedays is held at Pontefract Racecourse on Thursday 27th September. With just shy of 2 months left in the 2018 flat calendar, trainers are looking to finish their horses campaigns off in good style. Expect plenty of competitive and thrilling racing and some great perks!

On Thursday 27th September, there are 7 exciting races on the card which gets underway at 2.05pm. The highlight on the day is the Simon Scrope Dalby Screw-driver Handicap. Back in the 19th century, Screw Driver grabbed the hearts of the Ponte public and got their pulses racing. He won 2 Cup races which consisted of four heats over 2 miles on the same day with the winner being the horse with the best aggregate score over the 8 miles! He is also the earliest Pontefract course specialist on record! Dance King took the honours in 2017 – his third victory at the track for Tim Easterby and David Allan.

There’s a strong supporting card which includes the Frier Wood Novice Auction, which was won in scintillating fashion by Karl Burke’s Unwritten. He destroyed a field of horses who have all made a decent impact during the 2018 season – Austrian School, The Knot is Tied and Hyanna have won 8 races between them so far this year.

For each of the remaining three race meetings the Racecourse is on the lookout for those who think they know a bit about racing, to write a guest racecard analysis which will be published in the racecard on the day. If you’d like to be considered as a guest analyst for any of the last 3 race meetings (27th September or 8th and 22nd October) please contact the racecourse on 01977 781307 or email info@pontefract-races.co.uk.

On each of these racedays, there’ll be a soapbox for any punters to have their say on what they think has a great winning chance! For those who are new to racing, it’s a great way to latch on to a few winners! We’ll also have a guest pundit on the day to guide you through the runners in the Parade Ring and offer valuable guidance and knowledge about the days’ equine action.

Full information on the day, along with early bird discounted advanced tickets are available via the courses website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk , and, as part of the All About The Racing theme, if 4 or more tickets are booked for this race meeting, the track will give you a FREE Racing Post to help to study the form.

As Summer draws to an end and Autumn sets in, Pontefract Racecourse holds it’s final 4 race meetings of the year and they’re All About The Racing. With two race meetings in September and two in October, there’s still plenty of action on the track. The first of these racedays is on Thursday 20th September.
For each of the last four race meetings the Racecourse is on the lookout for those who think they know a bit about racing, to write a guest racecard analysis which will be published in the racecard on the day. If you’d like to be considered as a guest analyst for any of the last 4 race meetings (20th and 27th September or 8th and 22nd October) please contact the racecourse on 01977 781307 or email info@pontefract-races.co.uk.
On each of these racedays, there’ll be a soapbox for any punters to have their say on what they think has a great winning chance! For those who are new to racing, it’s a great way to latch on to a few winners! We’ll also have a guest pundit on the day to guide you through the runners in the Parade Ring and offer valuable guidance and knowledge about the days’ equine action.
On Thursday 20th September, there are 7 exciting races on the card with the highlight being the £30,000 EBF Fillies’ Handicap over 6 furlongs. Last year’s winner was Marie Of Lyon who took the prize for the all conquering Richard Fahey team. He had a strong team assembled for the race last year and is likely to be well represented again in 2018. Marie Of Lyon went on to be narrowly beaten when finishing 2nd in the Darley EBF Stallions Boadicea Listed Stakes at Newmarket the following month. The race forms part of the EBF Fillies’ Series which sees a number of valuable races for Fillies across the whole season. The series culminates in finals day at Newmarket on Saturday 6th October.
The popular Pontefract Stayers Championship returns to the track. The Micky Hammond trained Becky The Thatcher is currently leading the series and looks likely to be back to try and consolidate her advantage. There will be plenty of challengers lining up to take her on though! She has a great record at the track and owners, McGoldrick Racing, are keen to win the Championship.
Early Bird discounted advanced tickets are available on the courses website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk , and, as part of the All About The Racing theme, if 4 or more tickets are booked for this race meeting, the track will give you a FREE Racing Post to help to study the form. Looking ahead, if you’re planning on coming for the final race meeting of the season on the 22nd October, make sure you book soon as tickets are half price up to one month before the day.
Before then, racing gets underway at 2.10pm on Thursday 20th September and the gates open at midday. For more information about the day see www.pontefract-races.co.uk

Sunday 19th August marks the last of the three popular Family Day fixtures at Pontefract this season with the final weekend fixture of the year being run for the first time as The In The Zone Family Day! For the race meeting, the Racecourse are getting ‘in the zone’ and setting up themed zones around the stands and enclosures to encourage racegoers to learn a little bit about, and engage with, all aspects of the sport.

On the day, there’ll be areas set up such as The Tipster Zone, The Industry Zone, The Jockey Zone, The Horse Zone and The Kids Zone as well as a Newcomers Zone for those who’ve never been racing before.

As has become the custom on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s a lot going on for the kids in the Picnic Enclosure. With kid’s rides, a circus, face painting and free sweets, activity books and racecards, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to keep a look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!

There are also free Pony rides with the Ponte Clip Clop Ponies AND you can take a look behind the scenes with our minibus trips down to the start. Running from the Picnic Enclosure Entrance gates for the start of chosen races, it gives racegoers the chance to watch the calm before the equine superstars explode in to action.

The feature race on the day, and the richest race to be run at Pontefract in 2018, is the £60,000 EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes. The race has a rich history with some very classy fillies on the role of honour. The 2017 prize went the way of Richard Fahey’s Queen Kindly. The daughter of Frankel had won a Group 2 race as a two year old and proved a cut above her opposition. The race sponsors, Highfield Farm, have had a number of superb horses through their paddocks in recent years including Group 1 winners Mayson and Garswood and have an up and coming superstar, Mabs Cross, this year.

There is some high class supporting action on the track too. The £13,000 William Hill handicap over 1m was won by the highly talented Isabella. The Stayers are once again back in action for Round 5 of the Stayers Championship, in a race sponsored by Moor Top Farm Shop. The patrons of Moor Top Farm Shop actually had a winner on the card last year when their Sandra’s Secret took the Nova Display Handicap! New sponsors, Dickies Workwear, also sponsor the 1½ mile handicap on the day

There are some special Family Day Tickets also available when booked in advance. 2 adults and their children can take advantage of a special price of just £25. There is also limited availability for the new Sunday Specials packages. If you’d like to take advantage of any of the special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2pm and the gates open at 11.30am!

Racing and fashion combine in the annual Pontefract Ladies Day on Wednesday 8th August and there’s never been a better excuse to buy a new outfit! Courtesy of RIU Hotels and Resorts, Pontefract Racecourse is offering an all inclusive, week long holiday for 2 to the Dominican Republic. The prize includes return flights from Manchester. RIU Hotels and Resorts are also providing a fabulous runners’ up prize of a 3 night break for 2 to their Gresham hotel in Dublin! With such fantastic prizes on offer, the competition is bound to be fiercely contested! And for the first time in 2018, the Racecourse will also have a Best Dressed Gentleman competition with a prize fund of £350 to the winner!

If you’d like to be considered for either competition, then the Heart Angels will be on the lookout for the Best Dressed Racegoers from the minute that the gates open at 12noon and they will allocate numbered cards to lucky finalists. The judging gets under way for the Best Dressed Gentleman in the Parade Ring at 1pm and then the prestigious Best Dressed Lady Competition starts at 1.15pm. This year, the judging panel will consist of the Heart Breakfast Show team of Dixie and Emma, along with the National Business Manager for RIU, Maria Battersby.

The Racecourse is urging anyone wishing to be considered for either of the Best Dressed Racegoer competitions to make sure that they arrive early on the day so that they do not miss out. There’s an added incentive to arrive early as the first 500 ladies through the Premier Enclosure entrance will also get a free glass of bubbly and a buttonhole as part of the track’s #Magic500 promotion.

There’s some fantastic action on the track too. The feature race is the £20,000 tiesplanet.com – Ladies Love Guys In Ties Handicap. Aside from being one of the best named races on the racing calendar, it’s also a high class handicap for horses aged 3 year olds and older. There’s an impressive role of honour as this years’ Stayers Hurdle winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Penhill, took part in this race in 2015!

Local bookmakers Jayne and Steve Robinson sponsor 2 races on the card on Ladies Day – a two year old Novice race and a handicap for 3 year olds and up. They’ll be on the track on the day offering up the best prices for their races! There’s a £10,000 bonus on offer to the winner of the 2 year old race, taking the prize money on offer to £20,000!

Sponsors of the Best Dressed Lady competition, RIU hotels and resorts, also sponsor the veterans handicap on the day while the Racecourse contract cleaners, Solutions 4 Cleaning, sponsor the opening race on the card for amateur Gentleman Riders.

With the Park Suite Restaurant, Marquee and Hospitality Boxes already fully booked on Ladies Day, racegoers are encouraged to book their admission tickets and badges early to avoid disappointment. With a small number of ‘Premier Packages’ still available, there’s still the chance to upgrade your Ladies Day out! To book, or to view full details of the day, please visit the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give the office a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.20pm and the gates open at 12noon.

CONTACT – RICHARD HAMMILL 01977 781307

The second Family Day of the 2018 season at Pontefract on Sunday 29th July is the final day of the 11th Annual Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival. With racing taking place across the White Rose County throughout the preceding week, there’s going to be a real festival feel to the day’s proceedings. Trainers and jockeys will also be bidding to get that all important next win on the leader board as they aim to be the next top dog in their respective Championships sponsored by Goldsborough Hall and Sky Bet.
In keeping with the festival feel, the track has introduced a Fake Festival with performances from some of the best tribute acts on the UK circuit. With tributes to Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Tina Turner and cover band The Maxibrites performing before and after racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure. It’s definitely an afternoon not to be missed!
As has become the custom on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s a lot going on for the kids as well. With kid’s rides, a circus, face painting, free sweets, activity books, racecards AND free pony rides there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to keep a look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!
New Beginnings, a rehoming centre for retired racehorses, will be on course with a selection of ex racers. The charity helps rehome and retrain racehorses who have ended their track careers by giving them a more laid back 2nd career.
On track, Sky Bet support the main race on the card – the £50,000 Listed Pomfret Stakes over 1 mile. David O’Meara has farmed the race in recent years. In 2017 his runner Custom Cut was bidding for his second win in the race but Richard Fahey, the courses Champion Trainer of 2017, had other ideas when his ‘Another Touch’ took the race.
The Festival’s leading trainer and jockey last year will be hoping to retain their titles. Tim Easterby had two winners at Ponte on the final day and David Allan sealed his victory with a brilliant treble. With the yard continuing in great form, they could well repeat the same feat! Perhaps the most interesting winner from last year was Kings Will Dream, who won the maiden race on the card for Micky Hammond. He was then sold to race in Australia where he is unbeaten and has the Melbourne Cup on his agenda!
There are some special Family Day Tickets available when booked in advance. Admitting two adults and their children these special tickets can be purchased before the day for just £25. The Sunday Special packages are also selling fast – if you’d like to take advantage of any special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk) or give them a call of 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2pm and the gates open at 11.30am! Come Racing!

Evening meetings are always extremely popular at Pontefract and the last of the season is our Red Shirt Night and Beer Festival on Friday Evening 20th July. The race meeting also marks the second of the Friday Night Music Night series held at the Racecourse in 2018 this year featuring The Bootleg Beatles!
The Bootleg Beatles are one of the world’s most famous tribute bands and they’ll be performing their stunning recreation of the greatest song book of all time at Pontefract on Friday 20th July. Tracing the Fab Four’s journey through the sixties, every tiny detail is meticulously covered from costume to authentic period instruments.
Jack Berry and Red Shirt Night have a place firmly in the history of Pontefract Racecourse. As a trainer, Jack Berry was renowned for wearing his Red Shirt as his lucky symbol. He was easy to spot when cheering home the likes of Mind Games and Paris House, two of his very best horses. Since retiring, he’s been the driving force behind The Injured Jockeys Fund’s Jack Berry House – a state of the art rehabilitation centre for injured and retired jockeys in Malton. Now in its 26th year, some racegoers will also don a red shirt but it’s certainly not a requirement! The charity race night is one of the most popular fixtures at the West Yorkshire track!
The popular race meeting also incorporates a Beer Festival, with local breweries Revolutions Brewing, Pennine Brewery, Ossett Brewery and Bier Huis all showcasing their wares. The beer festival will be held throughout the evening in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and racegoers in both this area and the Premier Enclosure will be able to access the trademark best selling ales.
There’s an exciting programme as well with 6 races kicking off at 6:30pm. The feature race is the £20,000 Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap Stakes – a 5 furlong sprint which will take around a minute to win it! Last year’s winner Crowning Glory, trained by Ralph Beckett stopped Paul Midgely’s 4 year run of winning this race. We also have a new £30,000 race run over 1 mile which has been kindly sponsored by Dickies Workwear at Junction 32.
There’s an interesting supporting card including the Countrywide Freight EBF Novice Auction Stakes which opens proceedings. This is the race where you could spot the odd star of the future! Only a few years ago, Treaty of Paris took this race before going on to beat The Grey Gatsby at York.
It’s the last evening meeting of the Summer at Pontefract and it’s always a popular event – make sure you take advantage of the advanced booking rates available through the Racecourse’s website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

The ‘Art of Racing’ Raceday won an award at the prestigious Showcase Awards for it’s unique innovation and the first of two Art of Racing Racedays in 2018 takes place at Pontefract on Monday 2nd July. It once again promises to be a brilliant day for both racing fanatics and those going racing for the first time as the race meeting celebrates everything we know and love about the Sport of Kings!

For those who think they know a bit about racing, the Racecourse is looking for 7 guest tipsters to preview one race each on the day. These form experts will then visit the course on the day to share their knowledge to other racegoers before their race takes place! Pontefract are also looking for those with a keen eye for the horses to join them to pick out the Best Turned Out Horse in each race as well. If you’d like to be considered for either of these roles, please contact the Racecourse on 01977 781307 or email info@pontefract-races.co.uk.

There will also be a beginners commentary booth for people to have a go at commentating on a race ‘behind the scenes’ – everyone taking part will be able to take home a recording of their commentary! There’ll be free bus trips to see the equine stars down at the start of all the 5 furlong and 6 furlong races to show and educate racegoers on the loading and starting procedures. It’s going to be a fun packed day with plenty going on!

On the track the European Breeders Fund sponsor the 2 most valuable races on the card – the Fillies Handicap and the Spindrifter Conditions Stakes. The ‘Spindrifter’ was the highest rated race run at Pontefract in 2017! This race always attracts and produces speedy youngsters and last year’s winner Zaman (who finished second in a Group 2 at Goodwood for Godolphin), beat Unfortunately (who won a Group 1 and a Group 2 in France), with Izzy Bizu (who also went on to win a Listed race) back in third. The race honours Spindrifter, who won an incredible 12 races as a two year old in 1980 – three of which were at Pontefract!

The popular Lifetime in Racing Series host a 5f Sprint in honour of Alan Hogg. With a rich history in the sport, Alan Hogg is an unsung hero of the Stud sector, working as Stud Manager for Lennie Peacocks Manor House Stud in Middleham.

There are also two races on the card run in honour of dearly missed family members. The Conway family will again be remembering Wayne for the 11th consecutive year. He loved racing at Pontefract and would have loved having a race in his honour. Tony Perkins also sponsors the Classified Race in memory of his late grandfather Wilfred Underwood.

The Racecourse will once again be offering discounted tickets to those who book in advance – see www.pontefract-races.co.uk for more information.

The first Family Day of the season at Pontefract is just around the corner on Sunday 24th June. A hugely popular event, it’s the annual totepool Flat Cap & Whippet Family Day.

Not only do we have Pontefract Races, but there is an England World Cup game on Sunday 24th June as well. But the Racecourse are all geared up for it and are providing live coverage in between races on the big screens and have also got a dedicated World Cup Marquee providing uninterrupted coverage of the game throughout the afternoon.

There’s an action packed day ahead with activities getting underway when the gates open at 11.30am. Whippets from the Yorkshire Pedigree Whippet Racing Club will take to the Racecourse between 12.30pm and 1.30pm as they set the scene for their equine counterparts later in the afternoon. With around 30 whippets racing over a series of races, it’s going to be a fast and furious way to start proceedings!

Whippets and horses are not the only races taking place – a team of ferrets will also be stepping into the spot light with racing in the Picnic Enclosure throughout the afternoon!

It’s worth dusting off that old Flat Cap from the back of the wardrobe as well. The first 500 people through the turnstiles wearing a flat cap will win a spot prize of either a tote voucher, a drinks voucher or a racecard!

As has become tradition on Sundays at Pontefract, there are lots of things going on for young racegoers in the Picnic Enclosure. With kids rides, a circus, face painting and free activity books and racecards, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mum and dad enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to look out for the Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!

There’s also free Pony rides as well – plenty to keep even the most active little ones occupied!

If you’ve ever wondered what happens down at the start of races – in the calm before the race explodes in to action – then you’ll be able to pick up our free minibus which will take you down to the starting stalls and bring you back after the race. Available for any race over 5f or 6f, it provides a fascinating insight into what goes on in the open space of the Parkland.

On the track, totepool sponsor all 7 races with the highlight being the £50,000 Listed totepool Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes. The race was won last year by Abingdon who stormed home by an impressive 10 lengths for Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute. She then went on to finish 3rd in a Group 2 in France and Group 3 in Ireland later in the year. Where will the 2018 winner be campaigned?

The 2018 Pontefract Stayers Championship is shaping up to be a really competitive affair and Round 4 is the totetrifecta Pontefract Cup. Micky Hammonds Tuscan Gold won the overall championship last year and the trainer has the current leader in this year’s competition with Becky The Thatcher who looks to have a great season ahead of her!

As always Family Tickets (£25) are available in advance for 2 adults and their children along with a range of alternative packages. Please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.00pm, and the gates open at 11.30am!

Evening meetings are always extremely popular at Pontefract and the first of three this season is 80s Night on Friday Evening 25th May. It’s the first of two Music Nights (the other being on Friday Evening 20th July) and with one of the worlds biggest international female soloists from the 80s, Belinda Carlisle playing after the last race, it promises to be the best 80’s Night yet!
Over the last three decades Belinda Carlisle has made the journey from Hollywood-based teen punk with the Go-Gos to the ultimate global pop icon with a series of sophisticated, but instantly memorable pop-rock singles. It was ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ that Belinda achieved international success. It was a number one on both sides of the Atlantic and launched the start of an incredible solo career. With huge hits such as ‘Circle In The Sand’, ‘Live Your Life Be Free’ and ‘Do You Feel Like I Feel’, this years 80s Night is going to be a brilliant evening of good fun and nostalgia and lots of laughs!
With a tour of America planned over the Summer of 2018, Pontefract Racecourse will be one of the only chances to catch Belinda Carlisle in the UK this year.
On track, the highlight is the 6 furlong £25,000 EBF Youngsters Conditions Stakes. With an impressive list of previous runners (including last year’s winner, Rufus King, who went on to win at Ascot and Newmarket) it always attracts some interesting and precocious juveniles looking to stake their claim for Royal Ascot glory the following month.
Constant Security Services provide the uniformed officers on duty on racedays at Pontefract and they sponsor 2 races on this card. Mutadaffeq won one of these races last year for trainer David O’Meara, and then came back to win on Ladies Day three months later.
Napoleons Casino Bradford sponsor the Fillies Handicap over 1m2f. It was won last year by the Mark Johnston trained Bonnie Arlene who went on to win at Sandown and Musselburgh in 2017. Get Up And Dance was the appropriately named winner in 2016 and there’ll be plenty of racegoers doing that in 2018 when Belinda Carlisle takes to the stage.
If you’re bringing a car to this meeting, don’t forget to pick up your voucher for two free bottles of water. Keep an eye out for the Ponte team handing out vouchers in the car parks. You’ll be able to redeem these at any of the ‘Designated Driver’ points around the Racecourse.
It’s going to be a fantastic night of racing, laughter, music and nostalgia and many racegoers will be taking advantage of the fact that the dress code is relaxed on this night when they pick out their best fancy dress outfit and hope to pick up one of the spot prizes provided by tiesplanet.com !
There are still discounted tickets available. The Premier Enclosure badges are currently £23 while Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure tickets are £15 – both prices include the concert after racing. Entrance tickets bought on the night will be full price (£25 and £17 respectively) so make sure you get your tickets before the night! Advance tickets can be purchased via the racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk or over the phone on 01977 781307.

Wednesday 2nd May is a day when Pontefract traditionally looks to the future stars of racing, both human and equine. It’s the 29th Annual Northern Racing College Charity Day!

The entire race meeting is unique in the fact that the majority of the card sees races sponsored by William Hill, Sky Bet, Coral and Ladbrokes. All these bookmakers traditionally set aside their commercial rivalry on this day in order to encourage the grass roots and future of the sport.

The Northern Racing College, based just outside Doncaster, was set up in 1984 and provides a range of courses at all levels for people who are looking at the horseracing industry as a future career. It also offers those currently in the business the chance to develop their qualifications and skills.

The racing on the day casts an eye to future stars. The opening 2yo Novice Stakes, sponsored by EBF and William Hill is historically an informative event. The race was won a few years ago by the subsequent globetrotting superstar, Peniaphobia, who won another Group 2 in Hong Kong last year.  Tony Coyle took the contest in 2017 with Brandy Station who maybe didn’t have the same pedigree as Peniaphobia but has been in the frame a couple of times since and is now trained by Lisa Williamson.

The 3yo Sky Bet Maiden also has a rich history – John Gosden’s Royal Ascot winner ‘Remote’ made his debut in this a few years ago while last year, Mudaarab trained by Sir Michael Stoute won by a length and then went onto win at Goodwood under the same margin. We’ll be on the lookout for another superstar to hit the Ponte turf this year.

Coral sponsor the 1m Handicap again this year. With last year’s winner Melodic Motion going on to be 2nd in a Group 2 at Doncaster, there could be some exciting horses to follow this time round.

Again, looking ahead to the stars of tomorrow, the card concludes with the 3rd Round of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Handicap. Last year’s winner Oriental Relation was ridden by Callum Rodriguez. The jockey had a cracking season last year which was topped off by ridding Nakeeta to victory in the Ebor at York.

The 6f Ladbrokes Handicap Stakes was won last year by our Champion Trainer Richard Fahey when Gin In The Inn, a real Ponte favourite, took the honours. If Fahey can win this race again this year he will unlock our “It’s Champion” Promotion, where for half an hour after the winner has been announced a special offer will be available to all racegoers on course. This promotion also applies if Danny Tudhope (Pontefract 2017 Champion Jockey) rides a winner at the course in 2018.

The Racecourse Postcode Lottery gives the opportunity for anyone based in Sheffield to come racing for free. By sending a Stamped Addressed envelope to the Racecourse, residents can get a ticket to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure (Only 100 tickets available).

The Racecourse will once again be offering discounted tickets to those who book in advance – see www.pontefract-races.co.uk for more information.

It’s been a wet winter at Pontefract and unfortunately the Racecourse had to abandon their first race meeting scheduled for the beginning of April due to standing water on the track. However, hopefully the sun will stay out now and the Racecourse are looking forward to welcoming racegoers to the delayed start of their new season on Monday 23rd April.

This race meeting is the new Racing Buddies Raceday and if racegoers tag their racing buddy on the Racecourse Facebook Events page they can qualify for Buy One Get One Free tickets for them and their friend.  See website for full details.

The two-year olds start the season off in style in The Belinda Carlisle at 80s Night on 25th May EBF Novice. The race title promotes the course’s 80s Night later in the year when 80s superstar Belinda Carlisle will perform after racing. The Richard Guest trained Gisele’s Angel took the race last year, in doing so stopping Pontefract’s Champion Trainer Richard Fahey from winning this race for the 3rd year in a row.  If Richard Fahey can get back on the winning trail he’ll unlock the Racecourse’s new ‘It’s Champion’ promotion where if Fahey or Danny Tudhope (Pontefract’s champion jockey) ride a winner at any Pontefract meeting this season, racegoers will be able to access a special offer lasting for 30 minutes after the winning race.

There’s £25k up for grabs in the RIU Hotels and Resorts Handicap. The course record was smashed in the race last year when Judicial flew over the 5 furlong trip in a time of 1min 0.49secs despite his jockey dropping his whip. Will we see another track record fall in 2018? RIU Hotels and Resorts will be back at Pontefract later in the year when they sponsor the Best Dressed Lady competition in August. This year, the winning lady will win an all inclusive holiday to the Dominican Republic!

The Pontefract Marathon Handicap – run over 2m5½ furlongs – is the longest flat race run in the country and forms the first leg of our Stayers Championship. The Ponte specialist Tuscan Gold took the prize in 2017 and also won the Stayers Championship after a lengthy battle with La Fritillaire! With these two horses now enjoying their retirement, there’ll be a new name to add to the championship role of honour in 2018!

The 6f Maiden has thrown up some decent winners in the past and Kevin Ryan and Brian Ellison shared the spoils with a dead heat back in 2016! David O’Meara’s Black Isle Boy took the contest last year and won his next two starts in Scotland at Hamilton and Ayr. The race will hopefully reveal some more promising horses to follow for the rest of the season.

The Racecourse are continuing their Postcode Lottery promotion in 2018 and those living in York can pick up a free ticket for this meeting if they register before the day. All postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year.

Another new promotion will be launched this season when The Ponte Faithful makes its debut. People who booked tickets for a Ponte raceday in 2017 and again in 2018 will automatically qualify and they’ll receive a Free Bet, Free Drink and a ‘£5 off’ voucher that they can use at the turnstiles for any other fixture in 2018. They’ll also get a free entry in to a prize draw to win a table for 4 in the Park Suite on 8th October.

There’s never been a better reason to go racing more often!

With Spring here and Summer just around the corner, the flat season roars back in to action at Pontefract with a quality race meeting on Easter Tuesday 3rd April. With £92,000 worth of prize money on offer, the card often throws up some impressive early season types. The meeting falls in the Easter holidays so, in time honoured tradition, there’ll be plenty of free chocolate eggs and bunnies available for kids!

The Racecourse has been working with the Art and Graphic Design students at New College who have designed the promotional material for this race meeting as part of their A-Level Coursework. The winning designer, Ellie Tallant, not only has all her designs in print on the day, she will also have a spell of work experience with Leeds based Print and Design Company, Advertising Works.

The highlight of the racing programme is the £25,000 Visit The All New Racing UK Handicap over 1m 2f. A classy field assembled for the 2017 renewal. The winner was the subsequent Royal Ascot victor, Snoano, who took the honours for Malton trainer Tim Easterby.

The £15,000 1m4f EBF Maiden on this day has a rich roll of honour. Luca Cumani’s ‘High–Rise’ won this race on his way to victory in the Epsom Derby and lends his name to this race. Above Normal won the 2017 contest for Saeed Bin Suroor and Godolphin. He’s been winning in Dubai over the Winter – will 2018 unleash a potential superstar?

Of all the races run over the years at Pontefract, the Stayers races evoke the strongest memories among the race going public. With course favourites like Dan Buoy, Jamaican Flight and Bluff Cove all laden with stamina, the Stayers Championship has proved a popular addition to the racing programme in recent seasons. With a new running order for the Stayers races this season, we host the Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes on the 3rd April. The 2017 renewal (in October last year) provided Mark Johnston with his 4000th victory courtesy of Dominating. It is hoped that the race will give the stayers an opportunity to get a prep run in ahead of some of the big Cup races during the season.

The award winning ‘Wall of Fame’ promotion is back at the course for 2018. Racegoers who visited in 2017 may already have spotted their face on the website dedicated to the promotion (www.pontefract-races.co.uk/walloffame ) but the life size artwork will be unveiled in the Paddock Bar at the opening race meeting of the year. Anyone spotting themselves will be able to claim a prize from the Office on any raceday during the season. With 462 faces on show, there are plenty of great prizes to be won!

Those with a Harrogate postcode can pick up a free ticket for this meeting if they register for the Racecourse Postcode Lottery scheme before the day – all postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year. Full details are available on the website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk .

It’s been over 5 months since there was last racing at Pontefract but the 2018 season is almost upon us and the West Yorkshire track kick off their 16 day campaign on Easter Tuesday, 3rd April. The total prize money on offer of over £1.3 million is the highest ever provided at the West Yorkshire track and it promises to be another season of top class racing and fantastic entertainment.
Norman Gundill outlined exciting plans for the year ahead. He started by looking back to November 2017 when the Racecourse were shortlisted in four categories at the Annual RCA Showcase Awards and The Wall Of Fame (introduced for the first time in 2017), won the “Topspot” category. This is the third award that the Racecourse has won in the last four years.
The booking of Cheryl, Mike & Jay (formerly of Bucks Fizz) to play their greatest hits after racing on 80’s Night two years ago was so successful it led the track to make both of their Friday Evening Meetings Music Nights last year. That theme will continue this year when Belinda Carlisle plays after racing on 80’s Night on 25th May and The Bootleg Beatles perform on Red Shirt Night on 20th July.
The other evening meeting during the year, on Monday Eve 11th June, will once again be Rugby League evening and season ticket holders with Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity, Featherstone Rovers and Huddersfield Giants will again be able to gain entry for £5.
Ladies Day will be on Wednesday 8th August this year. The winner of the Best Dressed Lady Competition will receive a week’s holiday for 2 in a Riu Resort in the Dominican Republic. Second prize will be a weekend at the new Riu Hotel in Dublin.
In keeping with the strong family tradition at the track, there are 3 family Sundays each with their own individual family friendly theme and over £100,000 worth of prize money! Two of the Sunday racedays have been revamped in recent years with the much loved Flat Cap & Whippet Family Day on 24th June and the hugely successful ‘In The Zone’ Raceday on 19th August. The remaining Sunday (on 29th July) will, for the first time in 2018, feature a “fake festival” with three different tribute acts. The EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes on the 19th August will once again be the richest race during the season with prizemoney of £60,000.

While the meeting on Sunday 24th June clashes with an England qualifying match in the World Cup against Panama, racegoers will be able to watch the match on dedicated TV’s in a World Cup Marquee on the site adjoining the Parade Ring.
On the track
The quality of the racing promises to be as good as ever with record prize money and 5 Listed Races offering a combined total of £¼million in prize money.
Both Abingdon and Queen Kindly had huge reputations before winning the Pontefract Castle and EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes respectively in 2017. Abingdon had four more runs last season, once in Group 1 company, twice in Group 2 and once in Group 3. She started favourite on 3 of those 4 occasions finishing 2nd on one occasion and 3rd twice. She ended her season with a rating of 108.
Frankel’s daughter, Queen Kindly, had won the Group 2 Lowther Stakes as a two year old and big things were expected of her as a three year old. However, her win in the Flying Fillies was her only victory last season and she ended the season with a rating of 103. The Racecourse is increasing prizemoney for this race and will try to attract the very best sprinting fillies and mares with the hope of it achieving Group 3 status in the future.
Another Touch lifted the Sky Bet Pomfret Stakes when he just got the better of former winner Custom Cut while Lincoln Rocks, who had such a fantastic season with some brilliant runs in good races, won the Pipalong Stakes. Connect has not been seen since winning the EBF Silver Tankard Stakes but he beat a good field very easily and the yard are hopeful that he will continue to improve into a group performer in the coming season.
There were some other top performances on the track with subsequent Royal Ascot winner Snoano winning on the 11th April. Golden Apollo won big sprints at both York and Ascot following his win in the Mr Wolf Sprint. There was even a winner for The Queen when Swiftsure took the Bet totequadpot Handicap on the 25th June.
Perhaps the best race of last season came in the Spindrifter Stakes when Zaman beat Unfortunately and Izzy Bizu. The winner was subsequently placed in 2 Group 2 races while the runner up won the Group 2 Robert Papin at Maison Lafitte and the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville. Even the third home won a Listed Race.
The biggest headline of Pontefract’s year came when Dominating gave Mark Johnston his 4000th winner in the Phil Bull Trophy. In 2018 the Phil Bull will be run at the first race meeting of the year with the aim of attracting some horses having an early season prep run for the Chester Cup.
Promotions and Admission
Prices to each of the Premier and Grandstand & Paddock have been increased by £1 but the price of the Silver and Picnic Enclosures has been held. Many racegoers have already taken advantage of the extended 50% off early bird discount which ran from 1st December until the 29th January. There is still 25% off until the 19th March.
Racegoers will also be able to win fantastic prizes again in the Wall of Fame promotion. Anyone who visited the track in 2017 could appear on the new mosaic artwork which graces the Grandstand & Paddock Bar.
There are two brand new promotions for 2018 – The It’s Champion and Ponte Faithful promotions. ‘It’s Champion’ will kick in when either the 2017 Pontefract champion trainer (Richard Fahey) or jockey (Danny Tudhope) win a race during 2018. For the 30 minutes following their win, a special offer will be unlocked giving discounts, freebies and special offers! The Ponte Faithful campaign rewards those who booked in advance for racing in 2017, and re-book again for a raceday in 2018.
David O’Meara will host the Pontefract Annual Badge Holders visit in 2018. A group of 50 will be taken to the yard before returning for the meeting on the 2nd July, hopefully armed with a few winners! With the cost of a joint Annual Badge working out at just over £8 per person per day for the whole season, the excellent Loyalty Card scheme and the FREE Postcode Lottery promotion all in operation this season, there are plenty of bargains to be had.
Food and Drinks
Racecourses across the country are frequently tackled about the cost of drinks charged by their catering companies. We are very aware of the rising cost of living and want to offer value to racegoers. In response to the rising costs of a pint the Racecourse have decided to take an unusual step and are subsidising the price of a pint of John Smiths and Fosters so this year they will be cheaper than 2017 and cost £4.20. This will be the lowest price on any Yorkshire Racecourse and probably at any sports stadium in the district.

Racecourse Changes
Following the hugely successful refurbishment of the Parade Ring, both the Pre Parade Ring and the Horsewalk from the Parade Ring to the Course will receive a similar upgrade with the same combination of crowd fencing and running rail as deployed around the Parade Ring.
With a new Veterinary Treatment Box, a renovated Medical Room and extensive repairs to accommodation in the stable yard, the facilities for horses and racing staff have been hugely improved.
A new Wi-Fi system will also be in operation from the middle of the season with racegoers being able to connect to a hugely improved, faster system.
Those of you driving towards the motorway will also notice new signage advertising racedays and events.
Many will already know that former jockey, George Chaloner, has joined the administration team to work alongside Richard Hammill and Norman Gundill. His knowledge and existing links to owners, trainers and jockeys is likely to prove invaluable over the coming seasons.
With just over 4 weeks to the start of the racing year at Pontefract these are exciting times for the Racecourse who look forward to welcoming punters, new and old, back for the 2018 season.
Full details of all the Pontefract race meetings to be held this year can be found at their website on www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

Richard Hammill, who joined the Management Team at Pontefract Racecourse in October 2000 and has been Assistant Manager since he qualified as a Clerk of the Course in 2006, has been appointed Chief Operating Officer with prinicipal responsibility for organising and running all race day operations, which he has effectively been doing for some time.

Mr Hammill will continue to oversee Pontefract’s Marketing and Promotions strategy and will also continue to act as joint Clerk of the Course. He will be assisted by George Chaloner who was engaged as Full Time Management Assistant last month.

Norman Gundill will remain as the Company’s Managing Director and Secretary, but will hand over the work he currently still does in respect of raceday management to Mr Hammill over the next 12 to 18 months. He will continue to act as Clerk of the Course jointly with Mr Hammill until George Chaloner, who is currently undergoing training, is accredited.

Mr Gundill will continue to be responsible with Mr Hammill for overall strategy and budgeting, and, with his legal background, will continue to oversee regulatory arrangements.

George Chaloner, who retired from race riding last year after a series of injuries, and has been looking for employment in the industry since then, has been engaged by Pontefract Racecourse as part of its Management Team.

George, who rode 137 winners from 1,400 rides during a 7 year career, has been appointed as full time Management Assistant. Whilst assisting both Pontefract’s Managing Director, Norman Gundill, and Assistant Manager Richard Hammill, he will be primarily involved in working with Richard Hammill to implement Pontefract’s Marketing and Promotions Plan. He is also to train as a Clerk of the Course and once he is accredited Norman Gundill will give up that role and George will share Clerking Duties with Richard Hammill.

Norman Gundill said “With our continued success, it has become clear that we need to expand our Management Team, and we think George is the ideal person to join us”.

Richard Hammill said “l am delighted George is to join our Team. His background, qualities and enthusiasm will be very beneficial to Pontefract, and I look forward to working with him”

George Chaloner said “Pontefract was one of my favourite tracks to ride as a jockey due to its challenging nature and was a lucky track of mine. Retiring from race riding was a huge decision to make and I am honoured that Pontefract has given me the opportunity of having another career within the racing industry, and I am really looking forward to working with their Team”.

3rd January 2018

For further information please contact Norman Gundill on 01977 781307 or at info@pontefract-races.co.uk

The 2018 Season at Pontefract Races may not start until Tuesday 3rd April, but tickets went on sale on 1st December with the Racecourse offering punters their best ever deals for those who book their tickets early.
Racegoers will get a massive 50% off the normal price of Premier Enclosure badges and Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure tickets when booking their tickets before the 29th January. The huge saving applies to all race meetings in 2018 with the exception of the popular 80s Night which has a slightly different pricing scale.
80s Night is fast becoming one of the most established race meetings in the Pontefract Racing Calendar and the popular event will be bigger and better than ever before in 2018. On Friday Evening 25th May, the Racecourse will welcome another huge act from the 80s when Belinda Carlisle takes to the stage.
If ever anyone has given Madonna a run for her money as the queen of the three-minute pop song, it’s Belinda Carlisle. Over the last three decades, she’s made the journey from Hollywood-based teen punk with the Go-Gos to the ultimate global pop icon with a serious of sophisticated, but instantly memorable pop-rock singles.
It was with “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” that Belinda achieved international success. It was a number one on both sides of the Atlantic and launched the start of an incredible solo career. With other huge hits such as “Circle In The Sand”, “(We Want) The Same Thing”, ‘Leave A Light On’, ‘Live Your Life Be Free’ and “Do You Feel Like I Feel?”, 80s Night is going to be a brilliant evening of good fun and nostalgia and lots of laughs!
With a tour of America planned over the Summer of 2018, it’s one of the only chances you’ll get to catch Belinda Carlisle in the UK in 2018!
The second of the Friday Night Music Night Series will be on Friday Eve 20th July when there will be another fantastic musical accompaniment to the brilliant racing on offer. The Bootleg Beatles are one of the world’s most famous Tribute Bands and they’ll be performing their stunning recreation of the greatest songbook of all time at Pontefract on this night. Tracing the Fab Four’s journey through the sixties, every tiny detail is meticulously covered from costumes to authentic period instruments.
Attracting critical acclaim wherever they perform, The Bootleg Beatles will perform their singalong set straight after the last race.
With two fantastic music acts booked, the 2018 season promises to promote Pontefract Races to a much wider audience. With tickets limited, Racegoers are encouraged to secure their place early.

Tickets are on sale now via the Racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk or over the phone on 01977 781307.

Contact: Richard Hammill (Assistant Manager/Clerk of the Course) 01977 781307

Pontefract Racecourse has been honoured at the annual RCA Showcase Awards by winning the prestigious #TopSpot Award.

The RCA Showcase Awards, partnered by Moët Hennessy and Racing Post, celebrate excellence and innovation in racecourse customer experience and were held this year at Newbury Racecourse.

Pontefract beat off all the competition and impressed the judges with their Wall of Fame which has put the customer at the heart of everything the racecourse does on racedays as well as in their marketing campaigns. The impressive mosaic is on display in the Grandstand & Paddock bar and racegoers are encouraged to check the artwork and claim a prize!

Maggie Carver, Racecourse Association Chairman, said: “I’m absolutely delighted for all the winners and especially for the team at Pontefract for their hard work and dedication to ensure outstanding customer experience at the racecourse.

 

“The excellence and innovation of all our Finalists made the competition as fierce as ever, and the winners have shown exceptional commitment to delivering outstanding customer experiences and initiatives across the sport.

 

“Well done to all the Winners and Finalists who can be very proud of their achievements. The variety and range of our racecourses are what makes the sport in Britain so unique and it was really pleasing to see so many represented and winning awards.”

 

Richard Hammill, Assistant Manager of Pontefract Racecourse, said:

‘We are absolutely thrilled to have won an Award at the RCA Showcase Awards. The Seminar and Awards are a fantastic example of how the racing industry comes together to share best practice. For a small independent Racecourse like Pontefract to be able to compete with, and beat, some of their larger counterparts is a huge achievement and shows what a memorable experience Pontefract are able to provide at all their race meetings. ‘

The Wall of Fame will be back once again in 2018 with a revised visual of racegoers who attended Pontefract Racecourse during the 2017 season. Once again, there’ll be a fantastic range of prizes on offer for anyone who spots themselves on the Wall. The 2018 visual will be available via the Racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk early in the New Year.

Pontefract Racecourse is thrilled to have been announced as a Finalist in 4 categories for the prestigious Showcase & Awards, hosted by the Racecourse Association (RCA).

The Showcase & Awards is the marquee event of British racecourses that annually celebrates first class customer experience in partnership with Moët Hennessy and Racing Post.

Pontefract Racecourse has been shortlisted in the Best Campaign, Operational Excellence, Love of the Sport and Top Spot categories. From the five Finalists in each category the winners will be revealed at the Showcase & Awards ceremony on 16th November at Newbury Racecourse.

The Best Campaign category celebrates excellence in the sphere of marketing while the #TopSpot Award is looking for standalone initiatives, large or small, that enrich the racecourse brand and/or raceday experience for customers. The Wall of Fame obviously caught the judges eye as it was shortlisted for both of these awards – the only initiative across all categories to have been shortlisted twice!

The Love of the Sport Award celebrates initiatives that both enrich and extend the reach of the sport to customers and the West Yorkshire track impressed judges with their zoned Sunday race meeting which allowed racegoers to experience different aspects of a day at the races.

The Operational Excellence Award recognises exceptional delivery and behind the scenes initiatives that improve the operational performance and customer service at racecourses with Pontefract being praised for the innovative way that they reach out to the racegoer.

Racecourses across the county have done incredibly well with York, Catterick, Ripon, Redcar and Beverley also up for awards at the illustrious ceremony.

Richard Hammill, Assistant Manager at Pontefract Racecourse, said: “It’s a huge honour for Pontefract to be recognised as finalists in 4 categories at the Showcase Awards. It’s a fantastic achievement to be able to compete against the likes of such fantastic Racecourses as York and Ascot.

Having won an award for our Art of Racing Raceday at the ceremony last year, we are determined to keep on improving and better the racing experience for our customers.’

Pontefract only narrowly missed out on taking two awards at the 2016 ceremony when their Rugby League Evening was just pipped to the post.

Stephen Atkin, RCA Chief Executive, said, “I am delighted for Pontefract Racecourse for their success in being named a Finalist in 4 categories at the 2017 Showcase & Awards.

“It is a highlight of our year to see all of the quality Showcase Awards submissions go before the judges to measure the impact and growth of the initiatives that our racecourses have delivered and clearly Pontefract have enjoyed an excellent year.

“I extend my congratulations to the team for their hard work in securing this achievement and wish them the best of luck for the ceremony at Newbury on Thursday 16th November where we’ll see if they can join our esteemed list of winners.”

 

After a great Summer of racing, the 2017 season comes to a close at Pontefract on Monday 23rd October. The final meeting ends what has been a fantastic year at the West Yorkshire track with some memorable racing. And the final raceday is no different with a top class Listed 2 year old race on the card.
The 25th running of the Listed totepool EBF Silver Tankard Stakes has an impressive roll of honour with past winners including Comic Strip, who won the 2004 renewal for Sir Mark Prescott before being sold to race in Hong Kong and becoming one of the most successful horses in their history. D’Bai took the honours in 2016 for Charlie Appleby and the Godolphin team – who’ll add their name to the trophy in 2017?
The main supporting race is the totepool Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes. The race has a rich history of producing high class stayers – last year’s contest was taken by Mark Johnston’s Oriental Fox who won the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in the year. This race also marks the final leg of the 2017 Pontefract Stayers’ Championship. There are still 3 horses in with a chance of winning – previous winner, Tuscan Gold, heads the way from La Fritillaire and Madam Lilibet who have both been in excellent form at recent meetings.
A mile is a long way for youngsters to run and the opening race – a 1m nursery handicap for 2yos – often highlights a horse with stamina abundance. Mount Moriah took the contest last season and he’s been a revelation this year with thirds in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood and the Irish St Leger.
There are still a few places available on the totepool Punters Package on Monday. For just £42, punters will be able to secure a place in the VIP totepool Suite in the Dalby Stand boxes with hot buffet, guest speaker and use of the private viewing balconies! To book, go online to www.pontefract-races.co.uk or give us a call on 01977 781307.
The Racecourse continues to run the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for free. The last meeting of the season is again part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Bradford will be eligible for cheap entry on the last day.
There’ll also be a chance to buy some early Christmas presents too as the Injured Jockeys Fund will have their stand on course. You’ll also be able to purchase your 2018 Annual Badge at the 2017 price!
The action gets underway for the final time in 2017 at 2.20pm with gates opening at midday.

As the flat season continues to wind down, Pontefract stage their penultimate meeting of the season on Monday 9th October. The 15th race meeting of the year at the West Yorkshire venue is bound to be well supported as trainers get one last run in to their charges before the National Hunt season takes over.
It’s a fascinating card with the feature being ‘The Leslie Burton Fisher Handicap’ over 1 mile. The £18,000 prize money is bound to attract some interesting types. The Godolphin team have won the last two runnings of this handicap and their 2016 winner, Blair House, was second in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot earlier in the season. It’s traditionally a good day for the Godolphin team who have registered 5 winners at this meeting over the last 3 years – it may be worth keeping an eye on their runners.
Whilst it is not one of the more valuable races on the card, The Bluff Cove Handicap will certainly be one of the most fiercely contested, as it makes up the penultimate leg of the Stayers Championship at the course in 2017. The ‘Championship’ looks like going to the wire with current leader and former winner, Tuscan Gold, still in front of recent course winner La Fritillaire. The James Given trained runner, however, took the ‘Bluff Cove’ in 2016 and a repeat victory this year could see her take the lead in the championship.
The DEM Window Solutions Nursery is historically a fiercely competitive. Last year, there were 12 winners of future races in behind the winner, High Acclaim. In 2015, the race winner, Kassia, was also subsequently successful in Listed company, and so it’s a good race to keep an eye on with future winners in mind.
The Racecourse welcomes Napoleons Casino Bradford for the first time as they sponsor the one mile handicap on the card. Mr Cool Cash won the event last year and was recently runner up at the course in September. The race is bound to attract a few Ponte regulars!
The Racecourse continues to run the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing for free in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure. The last two meetings of the season are both part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Huddersfield and Bradford will be eligible for free entry at forthcoming meetings with Huddersfield postcodes the lucky ones on the 9th October. The action gets underway at 1.55pm with gates opening at midday.

As the flat season continues to wind down, Pontefract stage their second September meeting on Thursday 28th.

The highlight of the card is the Simon Scrope Dalby Screw-Driver Handicap – a £20,000 Handicap over 1m2f. ‘Screw-Driver’ was the racing pin up in the early 19th century, winning at least 2 ‘Cup’ races. These ‘Cups’ consisted of four heats over 2 miles on the same day with the winner being the horse with the best aggregate score over the 8 miles! This impressive feat makes Screw-Driver just about the first Pontefract course specialist on record! Team Godolphin have an excellent record in this race and they have taken 3 of the last 4 runnings. Their ‘Memorial Day’ destroyed his rivals last year by an easy 8 lengths – it was the last time he was seen in Handicap company and has been plying his trade at Group level ever since. The race also honours Simon Scrope, former chairman at Pontefract, who sadly passed away in 2010.

All races from Pontefract are shown live on Racing UK – Sky Channel 432 – and the channel lends their name to three of the races on the card. The chief supporting race, the Visit The All New racinguk.com Handicap, sees the 6f sprinters burning up the track. The race attracted so many runners, it was split into two divisions last year with Lincoln taking the first round for Mick Channon and Graham Lee, who both registered doubles on the day following Father Mckenzie’s win in the opening Maiden – to be run for the first time in 2017 as The procurementseminars.co.uk Novice Auction.

The EBF Frier Wood Maiden is often a decent pointer to a stamina laden 2yo. Henry Candy’s Cirencester took the honours last year while Percy Street took the same event a couple of years ago. He’s now a highly promising hurdler for the brilliant Nicky Henderson yard.

The EBF Fillies Nursery generally throws a few future winners up through the course of the season – Tomorrowcomes and Soldier’s Girl fought out the finish last year while Rioca, Peru and Mise En Rose were separated by just a neck in the 2015 renewal! If there’s a finish like that again then punters will be in for a treat!

The Racecourse has been running the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery throughout the season once again. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for free. The remaining 3 meetings of the season are all part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford will all be eligible for cheap entry at forthcoming meetings with Halifax postcodes the lucky ones on the 28th September. The action gets underway at 2.20pm with gates opening at midday.

Autumn may be drawing ever closer but there are still 4 race meetings left to enjoy at Pontefract Racecourse before the season finishes. With 2 meetings in September and 2 in October, there’s plenty of fantastic racing ahead.

The first September meeting on the 21st throws the sprinting fillies in to the spotlight with the second running of the EBF Breeders’ Series Fillies Handicap – a 6 furlong Handicap with £30,000 worth of prize money on offer. The race is the final opportunity for speedy fillies to qualify for the final of the series to be held at Newmarket on the 7th October and is bound to attract some high quality horses aiming to take home the big prize in October! Last year’s winner, Kassia, picked up a small injury ahead of the final of the series so couldn’t compete. However, she was back to full strength a week later when winning a Newmarket Listed race. She has been campaigned at Group level in 2017.

The Pontefract Stayer’s Championship is also reaching its climax with any numbers of horses still in the running to take home the top prize, worth nearly £5,000 to winning connections in 2017. Course favourite and current leader in the Championship, Tuscan Gold, is bang on course to take in the final 3 legs of the Championship to try and cement his lead. He’ll need to be at the top of his game as Madam Lilibet, Frederic and Uncle Bernie are not far behind him!

The opening Maiden race on the card is normally an informative affair. Brian The Snail took the honours last season and was subsequently bought by the hugely successful Godolphin team. Who will follow in his hoofprints this season?

Two of the races on Thursday will showcase future events at the Course – bookings are now being taken for both the VIP Package at the final meeting of the year on 23rd October and the fantastic Christmas parties happening in December.

The Racecourse has been running the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery throughout the season once again. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for free. The last 4 meetings of the season are all part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Hull, Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford will all be eligible for free entry at forthcoming meetings with Hull postcodes the lucky ones on the 21st September. The action gets underway at 2.20pm with gates opening at midday.

Sunday 20th August marks the last of the three popular Family Day fixtures at Pontefract this season with the final weekend fixture of the year being run for the first time as The Sunday Service Family Day! For the race meeting, the Racecourse are getting ‘in the zone’ and setting up themed zones around the stands and enclosures to encourage racegoers to learn a little bit about, and engage with, all aspects of the sport.

On the day, there’ll be areas set up such as The Tipster Zone, The Industry Zone, The Jockey Zone, The Horse Zone and The Kids Zone as well as a Newcomers Zone for those who’ve never been racing before.

As has become the custom on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s a lot going on for the kids in the Picnic Enclosure. With kid’s rides, a circus, face painting and free sweets, activity books and racecards, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to keep a look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!

There are also free Pony rides with the Ponte Clip Clop Ponies AND you can take a look behind the scenes with our minibus trips down to the start. Running from the Picnic Enclosure Entrance gates for the start of chosen races, it gives racegoers the chance to watch the calm before the equine superstars explode in to action.

The feature race on the day, and the richest race to be run at Pontefract in 2017, is the £55,000 EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes. The race has a rich history with some very classy fillies on the role of honour. The 2016 prize went the way of Mehronissa who went on to finish 4th in the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup before a trip to America for the Breeders Cup. The race sponsors, Highfield Farm, have had a number of superb horses through their paddocks in recent years including Group 1 winners Mayson and Garswood.

There is some high class supporting action on the track too. The £13,000 tote sponsored handicap over 1½m last year saw the highly touted Regal Monarch take the spoils. Mark Johnston’s talented horse was then sold to race in Australia – hopefully ending up as a Melbourne Cup hope one day. The Stayers are once again back in action for Round 5 of the Stayers Championship, in a race sponsored by Moor Top Farm Shop. Former winner Tuscan Gold currently heads the standings but with a whole host of horses snapping at his hooves, the prize is still up for grabs!

There are some special Family Day Tickets also available when booked in advance. 2 adults and their children can take advantage of a special price of just £23. There is also limited availability for the new Sunday Specials packages. If you’d like to take advantage of any of the special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.15pm and the gates open at 11.30am!

Racing and fashion combine in the annual Pontefract Ladies Day on Wednesday 9th August and there’s never been a better excuse to buy a new outfit! Courtesy of RIU Hotels and Resorts, Pontefract Racecourse is offering an all inclusive, week long holiday for 2 to Sri Lanka. The prize includes return flights from Manchester. RIU Hotels and Resorts are also providing a fabulous runners’ up prize of a 3 night break for 2 to their new hotel in Dublin! With such a fantastic offering, the competition is bound to be fiercely contested!
If you’d like to be considered for the competition, then the Heart Angels will be on the lookout for the Best Dressed Ladies from the minute that the gates open at 12noon and they will allocate numbered cards to 100 lucky finalists before the judging gets under way in the Parade Ring at 1pm. This year, the judging panel will consist of the Heart Breakfast Show team of Dixie and Emma, along with the National Business Manager for RIU, Maria Battersby.
The Racecourse is urging anyone wishing to be considered for the Best Dressed Lady competition to please make sure that they arrive early on the day so that they do not miss out. There’s an added incentive to arrive early as the first 500 ladies through the Premier Enclosure entrance will also get a free glass of bubbly and a buttonhole.
There’s some fantastic action on the track too. The feature race is the £15,000 tiesplanet.com – Ladies Love Guys In Ties Handicap. Aside from being one of the best named races on the racing calendar, it’s also a high class handicap for 3 year olds. Last year’s winner, Stars Over The Sea, has since left Mark Johnston and has joined Henry De Bromhead’s team in Ireland. Who knows, he may one day face the 2015 winner, Penhill, who won at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year for the all conquering team of champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins!
Local bookmakers Jayne and Steve Robinson sponsor 2 races on the card on Ladies Day – a two year old Novice race and a handicap for 3 year olds and up. They’ll be on the track on the day offering up the best prices for their races! There’s a £10,000 bonus on offer to the winner of the 2 year old race, taking the prize money on offer to £18,000! The 2016 winner, Perfect Madge, went on to compete in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket and the end of last season so we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the winner of the 2017 renewal.
Sponsors of the Best Dressed Lady competition, RIU hotels and resorts, also sponsor the veterans handicap on the day. Ralphy Boy has won the last two runnings of this race, beating Richard Fahey’s Chiswick Bey on both occasions! Both are reportedly on course for their third showdown and Richard Fahey will be hoping that it’s a case of 3rd time lucky!
Racecourse contract cleaners, Solutions 4 Cleaning, sponsor the opening race on the card for amateur Gentleman Riders. Silver Alliance and jockey Ross Birkett took the race for the second time when he powered clear in 2016.
With the Park Suite Restaurant, Marquee and Hospitality Boxes already fully booked on Ladies Day, racegoers are encouraged to book their tickets and badges early to avoid disappointment. With a small number of ‘Premier Packages’ still available, there’s still the chance to upgrade your Ladies Day out! To book, or to view full details of the day, please visit the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give the office a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.10pm and the gates open at 12noon.

The second Family Day of the 2017 season at Pontefract on Sunday 30th July is also the final day of the 10th Annual Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival. With racing taking place in the White Rose County throughout the preceding week, there’s going to be a real festival feel to the days’ proceedings. Trainers and jockeys will also be bidding to get that all important next win on the leader board as they aim to be top dog in their respective Championships sponsored by Goldsborough Hall and TVF Promotions.

As has become the custom on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s a lot going on for the kids in the Picnic Enclosure. With kid’s rides, a circus, face painting and free sweets, activity books and racecards AND free pony rides there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to keep a look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!

To celebrate the conclusion to the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival, there’s even more happening than usual as ‘Horses Inside Out’ will also be painting Harry (a retired race horse) anatomically so that we can understand a little more about how our equine superstars work. With fascinating presentations and interactions with racegoers, those who missed this incredible spectacle last year mustn’t miss out this time round.

On the track, Sky Bet support the main race on the card – the 1 mile Listed Pomfret Stakes. David O’Meara has farmed the race in recent years. Custom Cut and Mondialiste have been sensational winners of recent runnings but it was Sir Michael Stoute who took the honours last year with Convey. He won the Group 3 Winter Derby earlier in the year and was most recently competing in the Group 1 Champions Mile in Hong Kong. Keep your eyes on this race – there are some fantastic horses on the roll of honour.

If high speed is your thing, tiesplanet.com sponsor the main supporting race – the £15,000 6f Handicap while Pontefract and District Golf Club Ltd sponsor an interesting Maiden over 1 mile which was won in 2016 by Khairaat. Sir Michael Stoute’s 4 year old won 2 more races following his win at Ponte and started favourite for the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot a few weeks ago.

There are some special Family Day Tickets also available when booked in advance. 2 adults and their children can take advantage of a special price of just £23. The new Sunday Special packages are also selling fast – if you’d like to take advantage of any of the special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2pm and the gates open at 11.30am!

Evening meetings are always extremely popular at Pontefract and the last of the season is our Red Shirt Night and Beer Festival on Friday Evening 21st July. The race meeting also marks the second of the Friday Night Music Night series held at the Racecourse in 2017 and, with Cheryl, Mike and Jay, formerly of 80s Legends Bucks Fizz playing straight after racing, it promises to be the best Red Shirt Night ever!

Bucks Fizz were one of the top selling British groups of the 1980s – they had 11 top 20 singles during the 1980s including ‘If You Can’t Stand The Heat’, ‘New Beginning’ and ‘Now Those Days Are Gone’. They had three massive number ones – Land of Make Believe, Making Your Mind Up and My Camera Never Lies – the first two of which made it in to the top 50 best selling singles of the decade in the UK! They sold in excess of 15 million records, spending 219 weeks in the UK charts alone!

The band will forever be associated with the Eurovision Song Contest. It is 35 years since their ‘Making Your Mind Up’ won the 1981 Contest thanks to the famous skirt ripping dance routine! The single went on to be number 1 in nine countries across the world.

Jack Berry and Red Shirt Night have a place firmly in the history of Pontefract Racecourse. As a trainer, Jack Berry was renowned for wearing his Red Shirt as his lucky symbol. He was easy to spot when cheering home the likes of Mind Games and Paris House, two of his very best horses. Since retiring, he’s been the driving force behind Jack Berry House – a state of the art rehabilitation centre for injured and retired jockeys in Malton. Now in its 25th year, some racegoers will also don a red shirt but it’s certainly not a requirement! The charity race night is one of the most popular fixtures at the West Yorkshire track!

 

The popular race meeting also incorporates a Beer Festival, with local breweries Revolutions Brewing, Pennine Breweries, Ossett Brewery and the Bier Huis all showcasing their wares. The beer festival will be held throughout the evening in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and racegoers in both this area and the Premier Enclosure will be able to access the trademark best selling ales.

 

There’s an exciting racing programme as well with 6 races kicking off at 6.30pm.The feature race is the £15,000 Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap – a 5 furlong sprint which will take around just a minute to win it! Trainer Paul Midgley has won 4 of the last 5 runnings of this race. Last year’s winner, Final Venture, was trained at the time by the late Alan Swinbank. He has since been snapped up by Paul Midgley and has been competing in Group or Listed races ever since!

 

There’s an interesting supporting card including the Countrywide Freight Maiden Auction Stakes which opens proceedings. This is the race where you could spot the odd star of the future! Only a few years ago, Treaty of Paris took this race before going on to beat The Grey Gatsby at York!

 

It’s the last evening meeting of the Summer at Pontefract and it’s always a popular event – make sure you take advantage of the advanced booking rates available through the Racecourse’s website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

 

The inaugural ‘Art of Racing’ Raceday won an award at the prestigious Showcase Awards last year for its unique innovation and the second of our Art of Racing Racedays in 2017 takes place at Pontefract on Tuesday 11th July. It once again promises to be a brilliant day for both racing fanatics and those going racing for the first time as the race meeting celebrates everything we know and love about The Sport of Kings!

For those who think they know a bit about racing, the Racecourse are looking for 7 guest tipsters to preview one race each on the day. These form experts will then visit the course on the day to share their knowledge to other racegoers before their race takes place! Pontefract are also looking for those with a keen eye for the horses to join them to pick out the Best Turned Out Horse in each race as well. If you’d like to be considered for either of these roles, please contact the Racecourse on 01977 781307 or email info@pontefract-races.co.uk.
There will also be a beginners commentary booth for people to have a go at commentating on a race ‘behind the scenes’ – everyone taking part will be able to take home a recording of their commentary! With bus trips to see the equine stars down at the start, as well as a mechanical horse for budding jockeys to try out and some fantastic racing, it’s going to be a fun packed day with plenty going on!
The feature on the track is the Weatherbys GSB Pipalong Stakes – named after won of the best northern sprinting fillies in recent years. The race always produces a decent filly or mare as it’s the last opportunity for the fairer sex to gain Listed ‘black type’ over this trip. Indeed, the role call of former winners includes the likes of Chorist, Red Bloom and Gifted Girl who all went on to compete at the highest level. The 2016 winner, Spirit Raiser fought of a host of in form fillies for red hot trainer James Fanshawe who took the Northumberland Plate over the weekend.
The meeting kicks off with The Dianne Nursery handicap for 2 year olds. It’s one of the first handicaps for 2 year olds to be run this season. The 2016 winner, On Her Toes, was far from disgraced at Royal Ascot last month and if the 2017 winner is half as good as her, we’ll have something to look forward to.
The Pontefract Sports & Education Foundation hold a charity event throughout this day and three of the races on the card are sponsored by their supporters. Sochall Smith Chartered Accounts, Pontefract Squash & Leisure Club and People’s Holdings are all fervent supporters of the foundation who aim to promote the advancement of education and sport amongst the underprivileged and disadvantaged in the Pontefract and District area.
There’s a varied supporting card including the 33rd running of the £14,000 King Richard III Stakes Handicap. The race commemorates the granting of a Royal Charter to the Borough of Pontefract in 1484 and the successful owner will receive a perpetual challenge trophy provided by Pontefract Civic Society. Multiple course winner Johnny Cavagin took the honours in 2016 and will be hoping for a repeat performance!
The Racecourse Postcode Lottery gives the opportunity for anyone based in the Leeds area to come racing for free. By sending a stamped addressed envelope to the Racecourse, residents with an ‘LS’ postcode can get a ticket to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure free of charge.


The inaugural ‘Art of Racing’ Raceday won an award at the prestigious Showcase Awards last year for its unique innovation and the first of two Art of Racing Racedays in 2017 takes place at Pontefract on Monday 3rd July. It once again promises to be a brilliant day for both racing fanatics and those going racing for the first time as the race meeting celebrates everything we know and love about The Sport of Kings!

For those who think they know a bit about racing, the Racecourse are looking for 7 guest tipsters to preview one race each on the day. These form experts will then visit the course on the day to share their knowledge to other racegoers before their race takes place!  Pontefract are also looking for those with a keen eye for the horses to join them to pick out the Best Turned Out Horse in each race as well. If you’d like to be considered for either of these roles, please contact the Racecourse on 01977 781307 or email info@pontefract-races.co.uk.

There will also be a beginners commentary booth for people to have a go at commentating on a race ‘behind the scenes’ – everyone taking part will be able to take home a recording of their commentary! With bus trips to see the equine stars down at the start, as well as a mechanical horse for budding jockeys to try out and some fantastic racing, it’s going to be a fun packed day with plenty going on!

On the track the European Breeders Fund sponsor the 2 most valuable races on the card – the Fillies Handicap and the Spindrifter Conditions Stakes. The latter always produces a speedy youngster – the race was won in 2016 by Mark Johnston’s Love Dreams. The race honours Spindrifter, who won an incredible 13 races as a two year old in 1980 – three of which were at Pontefract! The ebfstallions.com Fillies Handicap over 6f has been won for the last two years by Tim Easterby’s Gran Canaria Queen. With £15,000 on offer to the winner, there’s likely to be a host of fillies challenging for top honours in 2017.

The popular Lifetime in Racing Series host a 5f Sprint in honour of Roy Fowler. With a rich history in the sport, Roy ‘Flogger’ Fowler is an unsung hero of the weighing room and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes as a jockey’s valet. We look forward to welcoming him and his family to Pontefract for his race!

There are also three races on the card run in honour of dearly missed family members. Tony Perkins sponsors a couple of races on the card – a Classified Race in honour of his late grandfather Wilfred Underwood and a handicap for Lady Amateur riders celebrating the life of his father, JP. The Conway Family will again be remembering Wayne for the 10th consecutive year. He loved his racing at Pontefract and would have loved having a race in his honour.

The Racecourse will once again be offering discounted tickets to those who book in advance – see www.pontefract-races.co.uk for more information.

We’re lucky enough to have some fantastic sporting action right on our doorstep in West Yorkshire with Rugby League and Horseracing being two of the biggest spectator sports in both the region and nationally. And on Monday 12th June – our Rugby League Evening – some of our fantastic Rugby League teams (Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity) will be taking over Pontefract Races for one night only!

There are some fantastic offers about – season ticket holders with any of the clubs will be able to come along on the night and pay just £5 to get in to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure – just don’t forget to bring your season ticket along with you!

Those wanting to make a night of it can meet their teams’ heroes with the VIP Package. For just £42, fans will have the opportunity to meet, greet and mingle with their favourite players in the luxury of the private Rugby League Hospitality Box. With private viewing balconies overlooking the Parade Ring and Winning Post, as well as a fantastic hot buffet and a table for the evening, it’s a fantastic opportunity to really make it a night to remember.

The feature on the track is the Mr Wolf Sprint Handicap. This £15,000 race over 6f remembers one of the all-time Ponte greats. Runners in this race have a huge mountain to climb to emulate the great Mr Wolf – he ran at Pontefract an incredible 36 times throughout his career, winning here on 8 occasions. He ran is last race at the course back in July 2012 but will be back on the night to parade before racing starts.

The race itself is always a fiercely competitive event and last year, the first 5 horses were separated by just ¾ length with Dutch Mist just getting her nose ahead in the final stride for the Kevin Ryan team.

At the other end of the scale, The Tony Bethell Memorial forms the 3rd round of the 2017 Stayers Championship. The evergreen course favourite, Tuscan Gold, is the current leader and he’ll be back to try and regain his 2015 crown.  There’ll no doubt be a few familiar names lining up and another grandstand finish is on the cards!

The Racecourse’s ‘Postcode Lottery’ promotion gives those with a DN postcode the chance to pick up a free ticket. There are 100 tickets available! For full information, please view the Racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk

Racing gets underway at 6.40pm and the gates open at 4.30pm.

Contact:           Richard Hammill (Assistant Manager/Clerk of the Course) 01977 781307

Evening meetings are always extremely popular at Pontefract and the first of three this season is 80s Night on Friday Evening 26th May. It’s the first of two Music Nights (the other being on Friday Eve 21st July) and with legends of pop, Bananarama, playing straight after the last race, it promises to be the best 80s Night yet!

Bananarama have been big news in recent weeks after it was announced that the original line up would be reforming in November. While Siobhan Fahey will rejoin the band in November, the remaining duo will take to the stage after the last race.

Bananarama are celebrating their 35th Anniversary this year and their achievements speak for themselves. They have an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful female band world wide with the most charting singles, all of which were international hits, four hitting the US Billboard Top 10 including a No 1 with Venus. They also performed on two of the Band Aid singles.

To date, they have had 32 Top 40 UK hits. They have released 10 albums and sold 30 million records. They became internationally hot property with hits such as ‘I Heard a Rumour’, ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting’ and ‘Love in the First Degree’ and, on Friday Eve 26th May, they’ll be hot property in Pontefract as they play the 2017 80s Night!

On the track, the highlight is the 6 furlong £20,000 EBF Youngsters Conditions Stakes. With an impressive list of previous runners (including last years winner, Yalta) it always attracts some precocious juveniles looking to stake their claim for Royal Ascot glory the following month.

Constant Security Services provide the uniformed officers on duty on racedays at Pontefract and they sponsor 2 races on the card. Alpha Delphini ran in one of their races last year (finishing a close 3rd) and went on to be just touched off in a Group 3 at Newbury at the end of the season.

The final race on the card is a Maiden race for 3 year olds, run in honour of Ken Sutton’s 70th birthday. His friends and family will be out in force to raise a glass for his special day and cheer home a winner. Get Up And Dance was the appropriately named winner of this race last year and there’ll be plenty of racegoers doing just that in 2017 when Bananarama take to the stage.

If you’re bringing the car to this meeting, don’t forget to pick up your voucher for two free bottles of Harrogate Spa Spring Water. Keep an eye out for the Ponte team handing out vouchers in the car parks. You’ll be able to redeem your vouchers at any of the ‘Designated Driver’ points around the Racecourse.

It’s going to be a fantastic night of great racing, laughter, music and 80s nostalgia and many racegoers will be taking advantage of the fact that the dress code is relaxed on this night when they pick out their best fancy dress outfit and hope to pick up one of the spot prizes provided by tiesplanet.com!

There are just a few discounted tickets still available. The Premier Enclosure badges are currently £22 while the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure tickets are £10 – both prices include the concert after racing. Entrance tickets bought on the night will be full price (£24 and £16 respectively) so make sure you get your tickets before the night! Advance tickets can be purchased via the racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk or over the phone on 01977 781307.

With Spring here and Summer just around the corner, the flat season roars back in to action at Pontefract with a quality race meeting on Tuesday 11th April. With 74,000 worth of prize money on offer, the card often throws up some impressive early season types.

The Racecourse has been busy over the Winter and will take the wraps off their new Parade Ring for the first time. The Paddock has been regraded and has brand new terracing for enhanced viewing for racegoers. The modern, state of the art Parade Ring has cost just under £½ million and is an exciting upgrade for the West Yorkshire track. The Dalby Stand and Premier Enclosure entrance has also had a facelift and racegoers will be welcomed by a bright, modern reception area.

The highlight of the racing programme is the £25,000 Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Handicap over 1m 2f. A classy field assembled for the 2016 renewal with strong representatives from the Newmarket yards. The prize stayed in the North though as Master of Finance won the race for the second year running!

The £15,000 1m4f EBF Maiden on this day has a rich roll of honour. Luca Cumani’s ‘High–Rise’ won this race on his way to victory in the Epsom Derby and lends his name to this race. Du Moto won the 2016 contest for Sir Michael Stoute. While he didn’t head to Epsom, he remained unbeaten for the rest of the season. Will 2017 unleash a potential superstar?

Of all the races run over the years at Pontefract, the Stayers races evoke the strongest memories among the race going public. With course favourites like Dan Buoy, Jamaican Flight and Bluff Cove all laden with stamina, the Stayers Championship has proved a popular addition to the racing programme in recent seasons. Round 1 of the 2017 championship gets underway with The Jamaican Flight Handicap over 2m2f. The 2016 series champion, Riptide is due to return to his beloved Pontefract in order to defend his title – one he’s already won on two occasions!

Tuesday 11th April marks the start of the new ‘Wall of Fame’ promotion at the course. Racegoers who visited in 2016 may already have spotted their face on the website dedicated to the promotion (www.pontefract-races.co.uk/walloffame ) but the new life size artwork will be unveiled in the Paddock Bar at the opening race meeting of the year. Anyone spotting themselves will be able to claim a prize from the Office on any raceday during the season. With 462 faces on show, there are plenty of great prizes to be won!

Those with a Harrogate postcode can pick up a free ticket for this meeting if they register for the Racecourse Postcode Lottery scheme before the day – all postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year. Full details are available on the website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk .

Contact:           Richard Hammill (Assistant Manager/Clerk of the Course) 01977 781307

                 

 

It’s been over 5 months since there was last racing at Pontefract, but the 2017 season is almost upon us and the West Yorkshire track kick off their 16 day campaign on Tuesday 11th April. The total prize money of £1.13 million on offer is the highest ever provided at the West Yorkshire track and it promises to be another season of top class racing and fantastic entertainment.

At the annual Press Luncheon held on Wednesday 1st March, Norman Gundill outlined exciting plans for the year ahead.  Following the success of The Art Of Racing Raceday last year, the event won the “All About the Horse” category at the Annual RCA Showcase Awards in November whilst the Rugby League Evening was one of four shortlisted in the “Events” category. Both will be back in 2017 – indeed there’ll be two Art of Racing Racedays due to the demand from people wanting to take part!

Pontefract will also have two Friday Evening Music Night Meetings.  80’s Night on Friday 26th May will feature Bananarama while Cheryl, Mike and Jay, formerly of Bucks Fizz, will be back to perform after racing on Red Shirt Night on Friday 21st July which will also include a Beer Festival.

Ladies Day is on Wednesday 9th August.  The first prize for the Best Dressed Lady this year will be a week’s holiday for 2 courtesy of Riu Resorts and Hotels in Sri Lanka.  Second prize will be a weekend at the new Riu hotel in Dublin.

In keeping with the strong family tradition at the track, there are also 3 Family Sundays in 2017, each with over £100,000 worth of prize money. The much loved Flat Cap and Whippet Family Day is on 25th June, the Go Racing in Yorkshire Festival Family Day is on 30th July and the Inaugural Sunday Service Family Day is on 20th August . This race meeting sees the Racecourse zoned into different areas – the Jockey Zone, the Industry Zone, the Horse Zone, the Newcomer Zone, the Tipster Zone and the Kids Zone!

The EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes on this day will be the richest race to be run at Pontefract in 2017 with prize money of £55,000. The race fulfils the BHA’s aim of improving black type races for fillies and mares and the Racecourse are hoping to one day run it as a Group 3.

On the track

The quality of the racing promises to be as good as ever with record prize money and 5 Listed Races offering a combined total of £220,000 in prize money.

In 2016, Loving Things (Luca Cumani / Martin Lane) won the totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes in June off a rating of 95. She ended her season rated 108 following a close 3rd in the Group 3 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock and a Group 3 win at Saint-Cloud.

In 2003, James Fanshawe sent out the admirable Macadamia to win the Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract before going on to win the Royal Hunt Cup and the Group 2 Falmouth Stakes. In 2016, Macadamia’s daughter, Spirit Raiser, ridden by Freddie Tylicki was sent off favourite to emulate her mother and made no mistake in doing so!

Convey (Sir Michael Stoute / Ryan Moore) was considered to be one of the most frustrating horses in training. He’s not short on talent but doesn’t always bring it to the track. In taking the Sky Bet Pomfret Stakes in scintillating style he becoming the highest rated horse to win at Pontefract in 2016 with a rating of 111. Having been gelded over the Winter, he started his 2017 campaign with a taking victory in the Group 3 Winter Derby at Lingfield.

Mehronissa (Ed Vaughan / Freddie Tylicki) was a taking winner of the Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes. She went on to finish a close 4th in the Group 1 Sprint Cup behind Quiet Reflection before being sent to America for the Breeders Cup.

Godolphin won the EBF totesport.com Silver Tankard Stakes with D’bai (Charlie Appleby / William Buick) who had previously finished an excellent 3rd in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. He’s still engaged in both the English and the Irish Derby as well as the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

They weren’t the only equine stars seen at Ponte in 2017. Maleficent Queen and Yalta both won at Pontefract before ending their seasons in Group 1 Company while Khairaat remained unbeaten for the rest of the season after winning his Maiden impressively at the track. Godolphin’s Memorial Day  kept up the good record of Godolphin in the Simon Scrope Dalby Screw Driver Handicap. He was their 3rd winner of the race in the last 4 years, winning easily by 7 lengths. He ended his season in Group 3 company at Newbury.

 

Promotions and admission

Admission prices to the Premier and Grandstand & Paddock Enclosures have both increased by £1 but the price of the Silver & Picnic Enclosures has been fixed for another year. However, many racegoers have already taken advantage of the huge 50% off early bird booking discount which ran throughout December until the 16th January. 25% discounts ran from then until the end of February.

With the cost of a joint Annual Badge working out at just over £8 per person per day for the whole season, the excellent Loyalty Card scheme and the FREE Postcode Lottery promotion all in operation this season, there are plenty of bargains to be had.

Racegoers will also be able to win some fantastic prizes in the Wall of Fame promotion. Anyone who visited the track in 2016 could appear on the new mosaic artwork which graces the Grandstand & Paddock Bar.

Brian Ellison will host the Pontefract Annual Badge Holders visit in 2017. A group of 50 will be taken to the yard before returning for the meeting on the 11th July, hopefully armed with a few winners!

Racecourse Changes

The Parade Ring has been rebuilt over the Winter.  The new, modern Paddock has been built in the same footstep as the old one but the slope has been reduced and new Fornells fencing and Quattro surfacing have been laid. At a cost of just under £½ million, the new Parade Ring also incorporates more extensive terracing, better viewing for race goers and much improved facilities for horses and stable staff.

The Course have also continued the programme of refurbishing their existing facilities.  This winter they have started work on Phase 1 of the Dalby Stand with the refurbishment of the Main Entrance Foyer and Staircase.

With just over 4 weeks to the start of the racing year at Pontefract these are exciting times for the Racecourse who look forward to welcoming punters, new and old, back for the 2016 season.

Full details of all the Pontefract race meetings to be held this year can be found at their website on www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

The 2017 Season at Pontefract Races may not start until Tuesday 11th April, but tickets go on sale on 1st December with the Racecourse offering punters their best ever deals for those who book their tickets early.

Racegoers will get a massive 50% off the normal price of Premier Enclosure badges and Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure tickets when booking their tickets between 1st December and 16th January. The huge saving applies to ALL race meetings in 2017 with the exception of the popular 80s Night which has a slightly different pricing scale.

80s Night is fast becoming one of the most established race meetings in the Pontefract Racing Calendar and the popular event will be bigger and better than ever before in 2017. On Friday Evening 26th May, the Racecourse will welcome one of the biggest British acts of the 80s. Bananarama are celebrating their 35th Anniversary next year and their achievements speak for themselves. They made two Band Aid appearances and have an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful female band worldwide with the most charting singles!

They had a string of international hits with four hitting the US Billboard Top 10, including a No 1 with Venus. To date, they have had 32 Top 40 UK hits, released 10 albums and sold in excess of 30 million records. They became hot property across the world with hits such as ‘I Heard a Rumour’, ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting’ and ‘Love in the First Degree’ and on Friday Eve 26th May, they’ll become hot property in Pontefract as they play the 2017 80s Night!

Following on from the success of the first music night at Pontefract in 2016, BOTH Friday Evening race meetings in 2017 will be music nights. The Racecourse will welcome back Cheryl, Mike and Jay, formerly of Bucks Fizz, to play at the Red Shirt Night and Beer Festival on Friday 21st July. The band had 11 top 20 singles during the 1980s including ‘If You Can’t Stand The Heat’, ‘New Beginning’ and ‘Now Those Days Are Gone’. They had three massive number ones – ‘Land of Make Believe’, ‘Making Your Mind Up’ and ‘My Camera Never Lies’ – the first two of which made it in to the top 50 best selling singles of the decade in the UK! They sold in excess of 15 million records, spending 219 weeks in the UK charts alone!

 

The Friday Night Music Night Series promises to promote Pontefract Races to a much wider audience and with the number of available tickets limited, Racegoers are encouraged to secure their place early.

 

Tickets go on sale at www.pontefract-races.co.uk from 9am on Thursday 1st December.

 

Contact:           Richard Hammill (Assistant Manager/Clerk of the Course) 01977 781307

 

 

Pontefract Racecourse has been listed amongst the Finalists for two prestigious awards at the Racecourse Association’s annual Showcase & Awards event.

Nominated in the ‘Events’ and ‘All About The Horse’ categories, Pontefract Racecourse impressed the independent judging panel sufficiently to become one of the finalists in each category and will be hoping to be crowned winners at the award ceremony at Doncaster Racecourse on November 17.

The ‘Events’ Award celebrates superb events that provide memorable days out and attract new customers to racecourses. The ‘All About The Horse’ Award celebrates initiatives that enhance racegoers knowledge of and engagement with horses and horseracing. Submissions demonstrated how racecourses had done this using bespoke campaigns.

Racecourses were asked to demonstrate a defined strategy and excellence in execution in their submissions, along with a clear link to the racecourse brand and encouragement of return visits.

The 2016 Rugby League Evening has been shortlisted in the ‘Events’ category. Rugby League fans from across Yorkshire flocked to the course as season ticket holders for Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Wildcats took advantage of discounted tickets and fantastic Meet & Greet packages. The inaugural Art of Racing Raceday has been shortlisted in the ‘All About The Horse’ category as racegoers learnt about all sides of horse racing – from commentating to what happens at the start, from tipping to how the Best Turned Out Horse is chosen.

Celebrating excellence and innovation on British Racecourses, the RCA Showcase & Awards feature a daytime seminar with a variety of speakers from racing as well as other sports and leisure industries, before the awards ceremony in the evening.

The seventh edition of the RCA Showcase & Awards is supported by Moet Hennessey, and is as competitive as ever with racecourse submissions increasing by 10% to 77. There are ten main awards in total, covering all aspects of racecourse operation, with the ultimate goal of celebrating and rewarding initiatives which enhance the customer experience.

Pontefract Racecourse Manager, Norman Gundill , said:

These nominations are just reward for the innovative skills and hard work of our promotions and marketing team lead by our Assistant Manager, Richard Hammill, and demonstrate the forward thinking and customer friendly approach that we think is so essential to keep us at the forefront of the local sporting and recreational life of the area.”

 

Racecourse Association Chairman, Maggie Carver, said: “The RCA Showcase & Awards is one of the highlights of the year for racecourses and we have seen the number and standard of submissions increase yet again making 2016 another difficult one for our judging panel.

“It is an amazing achievement to be named as a Finalist and inspiring to see such a wide range of racecourses on the lists.

“I am delighted for the team at Pontefract Racecourse and it is testament to the hard work they put in all year round. We are now looking forward to finding out who all the winners are at Doncaster on 17th November.”

 

After a great Summer of racing, the 2016 season comes to a close at Pontefract on Monday 17th October. The final meeting ends what has been a fantastic year at the West Yorkshire track with some memorable racing. And the final raceday is no different with a top class Listed 2 year old race on the card.
The 24th running of the Listed totepool EBF Silver Tankard Stakes has a rich roll of honour with past winners including Comic Strip, who won the 2004 renewal for Sir Mark Prescott before being sold to race in Hong Kong and becoming one of the most successful horses in their history. With £35,000 on offer in 2016, this year’s renewal will hopefully produce a really top class horse for the 2017 season.
The main supporting race is the Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes. The race has a rich history of producing high class stayers – last year’s contest was taken by Hughie Morrison’s Nearly Caught who recently won a Group 2 at Deauville and, last time out, was 3rd in the Group 1 Prix Du Cadran on ‘Arc’ day! This race also marks the final leg of the 2016 Pontefract Stayers’ Championship. There are still 3 horses in with a chance of winning – previous winner, Riptide, heads the way from La Fritillaire and Madam Lilibet.
Bryan Smart’s Alpha Delphini has been a revelation in 2016. He signed off his 2015 campaign in our final race of the season last year, finishing just in behind Mercers Row and Bowson Fred (who has also had a cracking time of things in 2016!). Will we see some more Ponte handicappers step up to make their mark in 2017?
There are still a few places available on the totepool Punters Package on Monday. For just £40, punters will be able to secure a place in the VIP totepool Suite in the Dalby Stand boxes with hot buffet, guest speaker and use of the private viewing balconies! To book, go online to www.pontefract-races.co.uk or give us a call on 01977 781307.
The Racecourse continues to run the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The last meeting of the season is again part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Bradford will be eligible for cheap entry on the last day.
There’ll also be a chance to buy some early Christmas presents too as the Injured Jockeys Fund will have their stand on course. You’ll also be able to purchase your 2017 Annual Badge at the 2016 price!
The action gets underway for the final time in 2016 at 2.10pm with gates opening at midday.

As the flat season continues to wind down, Pontefract stage their penultimate meeting of the season on Monday 3rd October. The 15th race meeting of the year at the West Yorkshire venue is bound to be well supported as trainers get one last run in to their charges before the National Hunt season takes over.
It’s a fascinating card with the feature being ‘The Tradeway Shipping Peter Kirkham Retiring Handicap’ over 1 mile. The £15,000 prize money is bound to attract some interesting types. The 2015 race saw Godolphin’s ‘Pallister’ take the prize. Godolphin sent a strong team for the meeting last year with 5 of their charges being sent off favourite. However, Pallister was the only winner for the ‘boys in blue’ with some noticeable fancied runners turned over – in the opening Racing UK Maiden, their 2-9 favourite ‘Change The Game’ was trying to win the race for the owner for the 4th year in a row but could not hold off Ann Duffield’s 50-1 winner ‘Heaven Scent’!
Whilst it is not one of the more valuable races on the card, The Bluff Cove Handicap will certainly be one of the most fiercely contested as it makes up the penultimate leg of the Stayers Championship at the course in 2016. The ‘Championship’ looks like going to the wire with former winner, Riptide, holding the lead. With recent course winner Medina Sidonia also reportedly aiming for the race, it looks like being an exciting climax to the series.
The Racing UK Nursery was a fiercely competitive race last year. Mick Channon’s ‘Kassia’ took the prize in 2015 – she has won 3 times already this season including the inaugural running of the richest ever handicap staged at Pontefract earlier this season.
In conjunction with Racing UK, Pontefract are offering all subscribers to the channel discounted entry to the Park Suite Restaurant (subject to availability). Anyone wishing to take advantage of this offer should call the Racecourse Office with their Racing UK membership details.
The Racecourse continues to run the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The last two meetings of the season are both part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Huddersfield and Bradford will be eligible for cheap entry at forthcoming meetings with Huddersfield postcodes the lucky ones on the 3rd October. The action gets underway at 2.00pm with gates opening at midday.

As the flat season continues to wind down, Pontefract stage their second September meeting on Thursday 22nd.
The highlight of the card is the Simon Scrope Dalby Screw-Driver Handicap – a Class 2 Handicap over 1m2f worth £20,000 to the winner. ‘Screw-Driver’ was the racing pin up in the early 19th century, winning at least 2 ‘Cup’ races. These ‘Cups’ consisted of four heats over 2 miles on the same day with the winner being the horse with the best aggregate score over the 8 miles! This impressive feat makes Screw-Driver just about the first Pontefract course specialist on record! In 2015, the famous ‘Golden Horn’ colours of Anthony Oppenheimer were carried to victory by ‘This Is The Day’ from Charlie Fellowes Newmarket base who held off the local challenge of Tim Easterby’s Silvery Moon in a thrilling finish.
All races from Pontefract are shown live on Racing UK, and the channel lends their name to 4 races on the card. The chief supporting race, the The Racing UK HD on Sky 432 Handicap, sees the 6f sprinters burning up the track. Course specialist, Johnny Cavagin, won the race last year. He’s already added to his course tally in 2016 – will he be back on the scoresheet again?
The EBF Frier Wood Maiden is often a decent pointer to a stamina laden 2yo and Karl Burke’s ‘Percy Street’ took the honours last year. He was initially trained with the Epsom Derby in mind this season and while he’s not proved up to that class, he’s won a decent handicap at Newmarket and then run creditably at Listed level.
The fillies’ nursery at the start of the card is often a competitive and informative affair and Sir Mark Prescott’s Rioca took the prize last year. It’s definitely a race to keep an eye on with the future in mind as the 2015 renewal has thrown up numerous winners this season.
The Racecourse has been running the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery throughout the season once again. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The remaining 3 meetings of the season are all part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford will all be eligible for cheap entry at forthcoming meetings with Halifax postcodes the lucky ones on the 22nd September. The action gets underway at 2.20pm with gates opening at midday.

Autumn may be drawing ever closer but there are still 4 race meetings left to enjoy at Pontefract Racecourse before the season finishes. With 2 meetings in September and 2 in October, there’s plenty of fantastic racing ahead.
The first September meeting on the 15th throws the sprinting fillies in to the spotlight with the first running of the EBF Breeders’ Series Fillies Handicap – a £30,000 Handicap over 6f. The race is the final opportunity for speedy fillies to qualify for the final of the series to be held at Newmarket on the 1st October and is bound to attract some high quality horses aiming to take home the big prize in October!
The Pontefract Stayer’s Championship is also reaching its climax with any numbers of horses still in the running to take home the top prize, worth nearly £5,000 to winning connections in 2016. Course favourite and current leader in the Championship, Riptide, is bang on course to take in the final 3 legs of the Championship to try and cement his lead. He’ll need to be at the top of his game as other course favourites, Madam Lilibet and Tuscan Gold are not far behind him!
On this day last year, Dark Ocean and Entity both won for the second time at Pontefract in the same season – will there be some course specialists stepping forward to claim another victory this year?
Two of the races on Thursday will showcase future events at the Course – bookings are now being taken for both the VIP Package at the final meeting of the year on 17th October and the fantastic Christmas parties happening in December.
The Racecourse has been running the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery throughout the season once again. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The last 4 meetings of the season are all part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Hull, Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford will all be eligible for cheap entry at forthcoming meetings with Hull postcodes the lucky ones on the 15th September. The action gets underway at 2.20pm with gates opening at midday.

Racing and fashion combine in the annual Pontefract Ladies Day on Wednesday 3rd August and there’s never been a better excuse to buy a new outfit! Courtesy of RIU Hotels and Resorts, Pontefract Racecourse is offering an all inclusive, week long holiday for 2 to the fabulous Le Morne resort in Mauritius. The prize includes return flights from Manchester. With such a fantastic offering, the competition is bound to be fiercely contested!
The Heart Angels will be on the lookout for the Best Dressed Ladies from the minute that the gates open at 12noon and they will allocate numbered cards to 100 lucky finalists before the judging gets under way at 1pm. This year, the judging panel will consist of Emma from the Heart Breakfast Show along with the National Business Manager for RIU, Maria Battersby.
The Racecourse is urging anyone wishing to be considered for the Best Dressed Lady competition to please make sure that they arrive early on the day so that they do not miss out. There’s an added incentive to arrive early as the first 500 ladies through the Premier Enclosure will get a free glass of bubbly and a buttonhole.
There’s also some fantastic action on the track too. The feature race is the £15,000 tiesplanet.com – Ladies Love Guys In Ties Handicap. Aside from being one of the best named races on the racing calendar, it’s also a high class handicap for 3 year olds. Last year, the finish was fought out by Michael Dods’ highly regarded Hernandoshideaway, and Penhill, who has since been snapped up by the unstoppable Willie Mullins for a National Hunt campaign.
Local bookmakers Jayne and Steve Robinson sponsor the supporting 1 mile handicap and they’ll be hoping for a repeat of 2015 when outside Guaracha scored something of a shock victory for the Clive Brittain team.
There’s a real variety of races on the card as the EBF and the Friends of Francis Hamilton team up to sponsor the £8,000 6f Maiden for 2 year olds. Tim Easterby’s Still On Top took the race last year and went on to be placed in the big two year old trophy race at Redcar. With the ‘Plus 10’ promotion making this race worth £18,000, there’s bound to be a useful juvenile or two lurking amongst the runners.
Motorpoint have recently opened a new branch off junction 32 and they sponsor the opening race on the card for Gentleman Amateur Riders to advertise their new showroom. The race kicks off Ladies Day and the winner is bound to be greeted to a huge cheer!
With the school holidays now in full swing, there is plenty going on for the kids too with the special Mad Hatters Tea Party. It’s the 151st anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland this year and to celebrate, the Racecourse will be hosting a giant street party in the Silver Enclosure. Mums and Dads looking for things to do can book their children in to the party for just £10. With a range of activities and garden games run by a qualified crèche, you can be safe in the knowledge that the little ones will be entertained, well fed and well looked after! Full details can be found on the Racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk .
With the Park Suite Restaurant, Marquee and Hospitality Boxes already fully booked on Ladies Day, racegoers are encouraged to book their tickets and badges early to avoid disappointment. With a small number of ‘Premier Packages’ still available, there’s still the chance to upgrade your Ladies Day out! To book, or to view full details of the day, please visit the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give the office a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.10pm and the gates open at 12noon!

The second Family Day of the 2016 season at Pontefract on Sunday 24th July is also the final day of the 9th Annual Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival. With racing taking place in the White Rose County throughout the preceding week, there’s going to be a real festival feel to the days’ proceedings. Trainers and jockeys will also be bidding to get that all important next win on the leader board as they aim to be top dog in their respective Championships sponsored by Goldsborough Hall and TVF Promotions.
As has become the custom on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s a lot going on for the kids in the Picnic Enclosure. With kid’s rides, a circus, face painting and free sweets, activity books and racecards AND free pony rides there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to keep a look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!
To celebrate the conclusion to the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival, there’s even more happening! Renowned horse racing artist, Darren Bird, will be next to the Winners Enclosure finishing off his painting of the 9 Yorkshire tracks. Once completed, this unique and incredible piece of art will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to the Injured Jockeys fund!
‘Birdie’ won’t be the only artist in residence at Pontefract next Sunday as ‘Horses Inside Out’ will also be painting Harry (a retired race horse) anatomically so that we can understand a little more about how our equine superstars work. With fascinating presentations and interactions with racegoers, those who missed this incredible spectacle last year mustn’t miss out this time round.
On the track, Sky Bet support the main race on the card – the 1 mile Listed Pomfret Stakes. David O’Meara has farmed the race in recent years. Custom Cut and Mondialiste have been sensational winners of the last two runnings and have both gone on to compete at the highest level – indeed, last year’s winner Mondialiste was sent to America for the Breeders Cup meeting where he finished runner up to the incredible Tepin. Keep your eyes on this race – there are some fantastic horses on the roll of honour.
If high speed is your thing, tiesplanet.com sponsor the main supporting race – the £15,000 6f Handicap. Ponte’s champion trainer, Richard Fahey, took the race last year with Right Touch who went on to win at both Ascot and Ayr later in the season. The trainer was completing a double after the classy Mayfair Lady took the opener on the card.
There are some special Family Day Tickets also available when booked in advance. 2 adults and their children can take advantage of a special price of just £22. There’s also a delicious BBQ package (£23) – perfect for a glorious Summer day! If you’d like to take advantage of any of the special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.20pm and the gates open at 11.30am!

Jack Berry and Red Shirt Night have a place firmly in the history of Pontefract Racecourse. As a trainer, Jack Berry was renowned for wearing his Red Shirt as his lucky symbol. He was easy to spot when cheering home the likes of Mind Games and Paris House, two of his very best horses. Since retiring, he’s been the driving force behind Jack Berry House – a state of the art rehabilitation centre for injured and retired jockeys in Malton. Now in its 24th year, some racegoers will also don a red shirt but it’s certainly not a requirement! The charity race night is one of the most popular fixtures at the West Yorkshire track, and marks the last of the three evening fixtures during the 2016 season.

The race meeting also incorporates a Beer Festival, with local breweries Hamelsworde Brewery, Pennine Breweries, Ossett Brewery and the Bier Huis all showcasing their wares. The beer festival will be held throughout the evening in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and racegoers in both this area and the Premier Enclosure will be able to access the trademark best selling ales.

After racing, the Beer Festival will continue for around an hour as local 80s tribute band Alibi take to the stage to entertain racegoers who will hopefully be enjoying some Summer sunshine!

If you’re not partaking in the Beer Festival and you’re bringing the car, then the Racecourse’s Designated Driver promotion continues at this meeting. Pick up a voucher when you park the car and you’ll be able to claim your two free soft drinks courtesy of Harrogate Spring Water. Vouchers are redeemable from designated locations around the course.

There’s an exciting racing programme as well with 6 races kicking off at 6.30pm.The feature race is the £15,000 Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap – a 5 furlong sprint which will take around just a minute to win it! Trainer Paul Midgley has won this race for the last 4 years – whatever he sends for the race this year round should definitely make your shortlist!

There’s a varied supporting card with the Countrywide Freight Maiden Auction Stakes opening proceedings. This is the race where you’re likely to spot the odd star of the future. Three years ago, Treaty of Paris won this before going on to beat The Grey Gatsby at York! Last year, Bing Bang Bong was an eyecatching third before just getting touched off in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York!

The phrase ‘horses for courses’ was never more true than at this meeting in 2015! A couple of course specialists stepped into the spotlight as both Be Lucky and Entity maintained their 100% course records. Will we some returning favourites back at the West Yorkshire track?

It’s the last evening meeting of the Summer at Pontefract and it’s always a popular event – make sure you take advantage of the advanced booking rates available through the Racecourse’s website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

The inaugural ‘Art of Racing’ Raceday takes place at Pontefract on the 5th July. It promises to be a brilliant day for both racing fanatics and those going racing for the first time. The race meeting will celebrate everything we know and love about The Sport of Kings!

For those who think they know a bit about racing, the Racecourse are looking for 7 guest tipsters to preview one race each on the day. These form experts will then visit the course on the day to share their knowledge to other racegoers before their race runs! Pontefract are also looking for those with a keen eye for the horses to join them to pick out the Best Turned Out Horse in each race as well. If you’d like to be considered, please contact the Racecourse on 01977 781307 or email info@pontefract-races.co.uk.
There will also be a beginners commentary booth for people to have a go at commentating on a race ‘behind the scenes’ – everyone taking part will be able to take home a recording of their commentary!

With bus trips to see the equine stars down at the start, as well as a mechanical horse for budding jockeys to try out and some fantastic racing including a £40,000 Listed Race, it’s going to be a fun packed day with plenty going on!
The feature on the track is the Weatherbys GSB Pipalong Stakes – named after one of the best northern sprinting fillies in recent years. The race always produces a decent filly or mare as it’s the last opportunity for the fairer sex to gain Listed ‘black type’ over this trip. Indeed, the role call of former winners includes the likes of Chorist, Red Bloom and Gifted Girl who all went on to compete at the highest level. Last year’s winner, Nakuti, went on to win a Group 3 at Sandown and has since been sold to race in America where she’s been campaigned in Grade 1 company so far this season.
The meeting kicks off with The Dianne Nursery handicap for 2 year olds. It’s one of the first handicaps for 2 year olds to be run this season and it can often be won by a bigger price runner as the handicapper gets to grip with his ratings for the young horses. Show Stealer lived up to her name when taking this race last season and is unbeaten so far this season.
The Pontefract Sports & Education Foundation hold a charity event throughout this day and three of the races on the card are sponsored by their supporters. Hilco, Pontefract Squash & Leisure Club and CareHomeClaims are all fervent supporters of the foundation who aim to promote the advancement of education and sport amongst the underprivileged and disadvantaged in the Pontefract and District area.
There’s a varied supporting card including the 32nd running of the £15,000 King Richard III Stakes Handicap. The race commemorates the granting of a Royal Charter to the Borough of Pontefract in 1484 and the successful owner will receive a perpetual challenge trophy provided by Pontefract Civic Society. Bryan Smart’s speedy ‘Nameitwhatyoulike’ took the honours last year and will hopefully be back for a repeat bid!
The Racecourse Postcode Lottery gives the opportunity for anyone based in the Leeds area to come racing for just £2. By registering a utility bill with the Racecourse, residents with an ‘LS’ postcode can get a ticket to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure at the heavily discounted rate.

Just a few days after Midsummers Day, the Midsummer Tea Party comes to Pontefract Races on Monday 27th June.
The Farmer Copleys marquee will be serving afternoon tea throughout the afternoon. Overlooking the Parade Ring, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a gorgeous afternoon tea whilst watching the equine stars strut their stuff. Walk in space to the marquee will be available but limited. If you’re interested in booking an Afternoon Tea for just £6.95 per person, please visit the Racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk for full information.
On the track the European Breeders Fund sponsor the 2 most valuable races on the card – the Fillies Handicap and the Spindrifter Conditions Stakes. The latter always produces a speedy youngster – the race was won in 2015 by Richard Hannon’s ‘Age of Empire’. The race honours Spindrifter, who won an incredible 13 races as a two year old in 1980 – three of which were at Pontefract!
The EBF Alan Mercer 60th Birthday Fillies Handicap over 6f gives the fairer sex a chance to battle it out – her rivals didn’t see which way she went when Gran Canaria Queen made all the running and ran out a very impressive winner last year.
The popular Lifetime in Racing Series host a 5f Sprint in honour of Rose Beattie. With a rich history in the sport, Rose is now semi retired having been a travelling manager with Mark Johnston since 2002. We look forward to welcoming her and her family to Pontefract and will be watching out for the Johnston runners in the race!!
Tony Perkins sponsors a couple of races on the card – a Classified Race in honour of his late grandfather Wilfred Underwood and a handicap for Lady Amateur riders celebrating the life of his aunt, Audrey Martin. The 6f Classified race gives lightly raced horses who have won just one race the chance to battle it out before stepping forward into Handicap or Listed company. Paint The Star took the race in 2015, giving Richard Hannon a double on the card!
The Conway Family will again be remembering Wayne for the 9th consecutive year. He loved his racing at Pontefract and would have loved having a race in his honour. He’d have also made a couple of pounds had he followed last year’s victor, Ingleby Hollow, who has only been out of the first 3 once since taking this race.
The Racecourse Postcode Lottery gives the opportunity for anyone based in the Doncaster area to come racing for just £2. By registering a utility bill with the Racecourse, residents with a ‘DN’ postcode can get a ticket to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure at the heavily discounted rate.
The Racecourse will once again be offering discounted tickets to those who book in advance – see www.pontefract-races.co.uk for more information.

The first Family Day of the season at Pontefract falls on Fathers Day – Sunday 19th June. A hugely popular event, it’s the annual totepool Flat Cap & Whippet Family Day.
There’s an action packed day ahead with activities getting underway when the gates open at 11.30am. Whippets from the Yorkshire Pedigree Whippet Racing Club will take to the Racecourse between 12.30pm and 1.30pm as they set the scene for their equine counterparts later in the afternoon. With around 30 whippets racing over a series of races, it’s going to be a fast and furious way to start proceedings!
Whippets and horses are not the only races taking place – a team of ferrets will also be stepping in to the spotlight with racing in the Picnic Enclosure throughout the afternoon!
It’s worth dusting off that old flat cap from the back of the wardrobe as well. The first 500 people wearing a flat cap will win a spot prize of either a tote voucher, a drinks voucher or a racecard!
As has become tradition on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s lots going on for young racegoers in the Picnic Enclosure. With kids rides, a circus, face painting and free activity books and racecards, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!
If you’ve ever wondered what happens down at the start of the races – in the calm before the race explodes in to action – then you’ll be able to pick up our free minibus which will take you down to the starting stalls and bring you back after the race.
There are also free Pony rides as well – plenty to keep even the most active little ones occupied!
On the track, totepool sponsor all 7 races with the highlight being the £40,000 Listed totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes. Farmed in recent years by Tom Dascombe’s high class Brown Panther, John Gosden broke the stranglehold when his Freedom’s Light took the honours in 2014. Last year, Luca Cumani’s subsequent Group race winner, Connecticut turned the race in to a procession.
The 2016 Pontefract Stayers Championship is shaping up to be a really competitive affair and Round 4 is the totepoolliveinfo.com Pontefract Cup. American Life holds a slender lead so far – only just ahead of Madam Lilibet, Almost Gemini and Monday’s impressive winner Bulas Belle. It’s all up for grabs!
Being Father’s Day, Pontefract are also offering a number of special Packages to make Dad’s day extra special. The Father’s Day Paddock Package (£40) and The VIP Premier Father’s Day Package (£100) both offer fantastic value for families of 2 adults and 2 under 18s. Family Tickets (£22) are also available in advance for 2 adults and their children. If you’d like to take advantage of any of these special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.10pm and the gates open at 11.30am!

We’re lucky enough to have some fantastic sporting action right on our doorstep in West Yorkshire with Rugby League and Horseracing being two of the biggest spectator sports in both the region and nationally. On Monday 6th June – our inaugural Rugby League Evening – some of our fantastic Rugby League teams (Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) will be taking over Pontefract Races for one night only!
There are some fantastic offers about too – season ticket holders with any of the clubs will be able to come along on the night and pay just £5 to get in to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure – just don’t forget to bring your season ticket along with you!
Those wanting to make a night of it can meet their teams’ heroes with the VIP Package. For just £40, fans will have the opportunity to meet, greet and mingle with their favourite players in the luxury of the private VIP Rugby League Hospitality Box. With private viewing balconies overlooking the Parade Ring and Winning Post, as well as a fantastic hot buffet and a table for the evening, it’s a fantastic opportunity to really make it a night to remember.
The feature on the track is the Mr Wolf Sprint Handicap. This £15,000 race over 6f remembers one of the all-time Ponte greats. Runners in this race have a huge mountain to climb to emulate the great Mr Wolf – he ran at Pontefract an incredible 36 times throughout his career, winning here on 8 occasions. He ran is last race at the course back in July 2012 but will be back on the night to parade before racing starts. The race itself is always a fiercely competitive event and usually throws up a sprinter to keep on the right side of – last year the race went to Tom Dascombe’s speedy ‘Dawn’s Early Light’ who went on to finish last season chasing home the super smart ‘The Tin Man’!
At the other end of the scale, The Tony Bethell Memorial forms the 3rd round of the 2016 Stayers Championship. American Life and Madam Lilibet lead the current race for the title but last year’s winner – the evergreen Tuscan Gold – is just a few points behind them. There’ll no doubt be a few familiar names lining up and another grandstand finish is on the cards!
The Racecourse’s ‘Postcode Lottery’ promotion gives those with a WF postcode the chance to pick up a ticket for just £2. There are 100 £2 tickets available and they’re selling fast. Register a utility bill with the Racecourse in order to claim your ticket – be quick though, there aren’t many left and racegoers are advised to check the website for availability!

Evening meetings are always extremely popular at Pontefract and the first of three this season is 80s Night on Friday Evening 27th May. With Cheryl, Mike and Jay, formerly of 80s Legends Bucks Fizz playing straight after racing, it promises to be the best 80s Night yet!
Bucks Fizz were one of the top selling British groups of the 1980s – they had 11 top 20 singles during the 1980s including ‘If You Can’t Stand The Heat’, ‘New Beginning’ and ‘Now Those Days Are Gone’. They had three massive number ones – Land of Make Believe, Making Your Mind Up and My Camera Never Lies – the first two of which made it in to the top 50 best selling singles of the decade in the UK! They sold in excess of 15 million records, spending 219 weeks in the UK charts alone!
The band will forever be associated with the Eurovision Song Contest. It is 35 years since their ‘Making Your Mind Up’ won the 1981 Contest thanks to the famous skirt ripping dance routine! The single went on to be number 1 in nine countries across the world.
On the track, the highlight is the 6 furlong £20,000 EBF Youngsters Conditions Stakes. With an impressive list of previous runners (including multiple Group winner Caspar Netscher), it always attracts some precocious juveniles looking to stake their claim for Royal Ascot glory the following month.
Constant Security Services provide the uniformed officers on duty on racedays at Pontefract and they sponsor 2 races on the card. Nakeeta, recently narrowly touched off in the Chester Cup, made his seasonal debut in the 1m 4f handicap last year but gave best to Modernism for the all conquering Richard Fahey yard.
Local computer and network specialists Alamo Business Systems sponsor the Fillies Handicap on the card for the 5th year. Always a competitive affair, the in form Godolphin team supplied the winner last year as Bittern scorched up the Ponte turf.
Solutions 4 Cleaning sponsor the opening race on the card – a 1m handicap which usually produces a big field and a notoriously tricky puzzle for punters to solve! There’ll undoubtedly be a huge roar from the crowds as the horses head in to the home straight.
The final race on the card is a Maiden race for 3 year olds, run in memory of Ron McNally who was a keen racegoer who sadly lost his battle with cancer last November. His friends and family will be out in force to raise a glass in his honour and cheer home a winner. My Call gave the Godolphin ‘Boys in Blue’ a double by powering to an easy victory in this race last year and has proven herself a very smart filly.
It’s going to be a fantastic night of great racing, laughter, music and 80s nostalgia and many racegoers will be taking advantage of the fact that the dress code is relaxed on this night when they pick out their best fancy dress outfit and hope to pick up one of the spot prizes provided by tiesplanet.com!
There are just a few of the 4000 discounted tickets still available. The Premier Enclosure badges are currently just £15 while the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure tickets are £10 – both prices include the concert after racing. Entrance tickets bought on the night will be full price (£23 and £15 respectively) so make sure you get your tickets before the night! Advance tickets can be purchased via the racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk or over the phone on 01977 781307.

Wednesday 27th April is a day when Pontefract traditionally looks to the future stars of racing – it’s the 27th Annual Northern Racing College Charity Day!
The entire race meeting is unique in the fact that the body of the card sees races sponsored by William Hill, totepool, Betfred, Ladbrokes and Coral. All these bookmakers traditionally set aside their commercial rivalry on this day in order to encourage the grass roots and future of the sport.
The Northern Racing College, based just outside Doncaster, was set up in 1984 and provides a range of courses at all levels for people who are looking at the horseracing industry as a future career. It also offers those currently in the business the chance to develop their qualifications and skills.
The racing on the day also casts an eye to future stars. The opening 2yo Maiden, jointly sponsored by the EBF and William Hill is historically an informative event. Won a few years ago by the subsequent successful globetrotter, Peniaphobia, last year’s winner, Sixth Sense, went on to win at Listed level and was a regular in Group races.
The 3yo totepool Maiden also has a rich history – John Gosden’s Royal Ascot winner ‘Remote’ made his debut in this and the same trainer’s ‘Fallen For A Star’ was runner up to ‘Glan Y Gors’ in the event last year.
We’ll be on the lookout for another superstar to hit the Ponte turf this year.
Again, looking ahead to the stars of tomorrow, the card concludes with the 3rd Round of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Handicap. The 2015 series was won by Josh Doyle who is attached to the hugely successful David O’Meara yard. The duo teamed up to be runners up in this race last year behind Mick Easterby’s Iggy.
The £15,000 Ladbrokes Fillies’ Handicap is the feature race on the card and Luca Cumani’s ‘Pleasant Valley’ was a hugely impressive winner last year. On a strong supporting card, the Betfred Handicap over 6f also saw the first Ponte victory for Trinity Star who doubled up later in the season season.
The Racecourse Postcode Lottery gives the opportunity for anyone based in Sheffield to come racing for just £2. By registering a utility bill with the Racecourse, residents can get a ticket to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure at the heavily discounted rate.
The Racecourse will once again be offering discounted tickets to those who book in advance – see www.pontefract-races.co.uk for more information.

Horses laden with stamina are no bad thing at the best of times at Pontefract, but never more so than at the second meeting of the season at the West Yorkshire track on Monday 18th April. The Pontefract Marathon Handicap – over a testing 2m 5½ furlongs – is the longest flat handicap race run in the country and forms the second leg of the 2016 Stayers Championship in which Almost Gemini holds an early lead having revelled in the gruelling conditions at the track in the opening meeting of the year last Tuesday. Course favourites Riptide and Tuscan Gold are both likely to be back in action to settle old scores having been nip and tuck in the 2015 championship.
At the other end of the spectrum, the sprinters compete for the richest race on the card, the £20,000 Riu Palace Meloneras Handicap. Out Do took the prize for the David O’Meara yard last year before going on to Listed glory at York later in the season. RIU Hotels and Resorts, who sponsor this race, are once again generously donating an all inclusive weeks holiday for 2 people to the winner of the Best Dressed Lady Competition at the Pontefract Ladies Day on Wednesday 3rd August. This year, the lucky winners will be heading to Mauritius.
The race itself is often a pointer to a big handicap winner later in the year: 2015 Ayr Bronze Cup winner Go Far took his chance in this race last year while 2014 Ayr Gold Cup winner Louis The Pious made his reappearance in this race in 2014 and 2013 Wokingham winner York Glory won the race 3 seasons ago. It’s definitely a race to keep an eye on for the future!
Two year olds step forward for the first time at Pontefract this season in the Douglas Barraclough 80th Birthday Novice Stakes. Richard Fahey and Black Magic took the contest last year and the leading trainer from Ponte in 2015 will no doubt field a strong contingent in a bid to follow up.
Mary Hibbert will also be celebrating her 80th birthday at Pontefract on Monday and sponsors the 6f Maiden for 3yos. In what was a highly information race in 2015 as Tom Dascombe’s smart ‘Dawn’s Early Light’ was just touched off by the Richard Fahey trained Beardwood. Both of these horses will hold claims in top races this season and the race will hopefully reveal some promising horses to follow in 2016.
Those living in York can pick up a ticket for £2 for this meeting if they register for the Racecourse Postcode Lottery scheme before the day – all postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year.

After a few months off over the winter, the flat season roars back in to action at Pontefract with a quality race meeting on Tuesday 5th April. With over £60,000 worth of prize money on offer, the card often throws up some impressive early season types.
The highlight of the programme is the £20,000 Watch Racing UK on 3 Devices Handicap over 1m 2f. A classy field assembled for the 2015 renewal with strong representatives from the Newmarket yards. The prize stayed in the North though as Master of Finance bravely fought off all comers for the Mark Johnston yard.
While it doesn’t have the same monetary value, the 1m2f EBF Maiden has a rich roll of honour. Indeed Luca Cumani’s ‘High–Rise’ won this race on his way to victory in the Epsom Derby and lends his name to this race. While other winners of this race have gone on to go close in the Derby (including Libertarian in 2013), High-Rise remains the only one currently to complete the double. John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute, Tom Dascombe and Richard Hannon all had runners in 2015 – will they provide a potential superstar in 2016?
Sprinters step to the fore in the £12,000 Racing Uk Handicap over 6f. Pontefract’s leading trainer in 2015, Richard Fahey, provided the winner last year as his ‘Grandad’s World’ maintained his unbeaten record at Ponte. Later in the season he went on to split subsequent Group 1 winner ‘Twilight Son’ and Steward’s Cup winner ‘Magical Memory’ at York – if our 2016 winner is as talented then we’ll be in for a treat!
Of all the races run over the years at Pontefract, the Stayers races evoke the strongest memories among the race going public. With course favourites like Dan Buoy, Jamaican Flight and Bluff Cove all laden with stamina, the Stayers Championship has proved a popular addition to the racing programme in recent seasons. Round 1 of the 2016 championship gets underway with The Jamaican Flight Handicap over 2m2f. The 2015 series champion, Tuscan Gold, kicked off his campaign with a 3rd place in the corresponding race last year – he’ll hopefully be back to defend his crown along with another previous winner, Riptide.
The Racecourse has, as usual, been busy during the closed season and racegoers will be able to drink their pints in the newly refurbished Grandstand & Paddock Bar opposite the Betting Hall. With a new raised seating area looking out on to the Betting Hall lawn, it’s bound to be a hit with racegoers. The Annual Badge Holders bar has also undergone a redecoration scheme for the Racecourse regulars who take advantage of the discount and pay for their season ticket in advance.
Those with a Harrogate postcode can pick up a ticket for £2 for this meeting if they register for the Racecourse Postcode Lottery scheme before the day – all postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year. Full details are available on the website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk .

It’s been over 5 months since we last had racing at Pontefract, but the 2016 season is almost upon us and the West Yorkshire track kick off their 16 day campaign on Tuesday 5th April. With prize money once again topping the £1 million mark, there promises to be another season of top class racing and fantastic entertainment.
At the annual Press Luncheon held on Wednesday 2nd March, Norman Gundill outlined exciting plans for the year ahead. With admission prices to the Premier, Grandstand & Paddock and Silver Enclosure fixed for another year, there is a small increase for the price of a car to park in the Picnic Enclosure with a maximum of 4 adult occupants (now £15) although the price does now include a racecard. However, with the cost of a joint Annual Badge working out at under £8 per person per day for the whole season, the excellent Loyalty Card scheme and the £2 Postcode Lottery promotion all in operation this season, there are plenty of bargains to be had.
On the track, the quality of the racing promises to be as good as ever with 5 Listed Races offering a combined total of £210,000 in prize money. In 2015, David O’Meara continued his stranglehold of the Sky Bet Pomfret Stakes when Mondialiste followed up the success of his stable companion, Custom Cut, in 2014. Mondialiste continued his impressive progression through the ranks winning a Group 3 at York and a Grade 1 in Canada before finishing runner up in the Breeders Cup Mile at Keeneland. The totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes went to subsequent Group 2 winner, Connecticut, and The Weatherbys Pipalong Stakes went to subsequent Group 3 winner, Nakuti. Divine won the EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes and ran some fantastic races in defeat throughout the rest of the campaign. Her 2016 season is already underway in Meydan where she’s bumped in to some high class performers in Jungle Cat and Ertijaal. The 2yo Listed race run at the last meeting was won by Thanksfortellingme who completed his 2 year old career unbeaten in three starts. They weren’t the only equine stars seen at Ponte in 2015 as Right Touch (who famously went on to win at Ayr on ‘Touch’ Day), Dawn’s Early Light, Sixth Sense, Mayfair Lady, Penhill and Hernandoshideaway all appeared at the track during the season.
EXCITING TIMES
As well as favourites such as Red Shirt Night on Friday Eve 15th July (which again features a Yorkshire Beer Festival) and Father’s Day – Flat Cap and Whippet Family Day on Sunday 19th June, there are some new theme days to look forward to in 2016.

On Friday Eve 27th May, Cheryl, Mike and Jay (formerly of Bucks Fizz) will be performing straight after the racing to complement the Racecourse 80s Night. It’s the 35th anniversary of their famous skirt-ripping Eurovision winning performance and, as has become the tradition on Pontefract 80s Night, prices in advance for the event will reflect what would have been paid in the 1980s with the Premier Enclosure (£15) and Grandstand & Paddock (£10) admission also including the band’s performance after the last race.
The Monday Evening race meeting on 6th June has also received a complete facelift and will now be Rugby League Evening. Season ticket holders of Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Wildcats will all get entry to the Grandstand & Paddock for just £5. There’s also the opportunity to upgrade to a VIP Package (for £40) with the chance to meet and greet the players!
Tuesday 5th July becomes the Art of Racing Raceday with racegoers encouraged to try their hand at all things racing! From trying your hand at commentating to seeing the starts; and picking the Best Turned Out horse to tipping the winners. There’s even the chance for budding jockeys to try out the equiciser!
There’s also the 27th Annual Northern Racing College Charity Day (on Wednesday 27th April) and the Midsummer Tea Party Day (on Monday 27th June) to look forward to.

In keeping with the strong family tradition, there are also 2 more Family Sundays (the Go Racing in Yorkshire Festival Family Day on 24th July and the Flying Fillies Family Day on 14th August) in addition to the Father’s Day meeting on 19th June.
The glitz and glamour of the ever popular Ladies Day hits the town on Wednesday 3rd August where the winner of the Best Dressed Lady Competition will walk away with an all inclusive trip for two to Mauritius courtesy of RIU Hotels and Resorts.
There truly is something for everyone at Pontefract in 2016.
RACECOURSE CHANGES
Regular racegoers will also notice that the Paddock Lounge Bar has been revamped. Not only has there been a major redecoration scheme but two of the outdoor kiosks have also been incorporated in to the Bar, giving a new raised seating area and a much lighter, sunnier aspect over the Betting Hall lawn and Parade Ring.
Annual Badge holders will also notice that their bar has undergone some work along with a range of new furniture added to the area. The Racecourse run a trip for 50 of their Annual Badge holders each year to visit a leading stable yard and, on Monday 27th June, they will be bused out to Malton to see the yard of the course’s 2015 leading trainer, Richard Fahey.
With just over 4 weeks to the start of the racing year at Pontefract these are exciting times for the Racecourse who look forward to welcoming punters, new and old, back for the 2016 season.
Full details of all the Pontefract race meetings to be held this year can be found at their website on www.pontefract-races.co.uk.

80s Night is fast becoming one of the most established race meetings in the Pontefract Racing Calendar and the popular event will be bigger and better than ever before in 2016.
Bucks Fizz were one of the top selling British groups of the 1980s and Cheryl, Mike and Jay, formerly of Bucks Fizz, have confirmed that they will be playing a greatest hits set after racing at the West Yorkshire track at the first of the popular evening meetings in 2016 on Friday 27th May – making the event a true celebration of the 80s!
The band had 11 top 20 singles during the 1980s including ‘If You Can’t Stand The Heat’, ‘New Beginning’ and ‘Now Those Days Are Gone’. They had three massive number ones – Land of Make Believe, Making Your Mind Up and My Camera Never Lies – the first two of which made it in to the top 50 best selling singles of the decade in the UK! They sold in excess of 15 million records, spending 219 weeks in the UK charts alone!
The band will, of course, be forever associated with the Eurovision Song Contest. By May next year, it will be 35 years since their ‘Making Your Mind Up’ won the 1981 Contest thanks to the famous skirt ripping dance routine! The single went on to be number 1 in nine countries across the world.
For previous 80s Nights, racegoers have paid the same price as they would have paid in the 80s. For the 2016 event, prices will again reflect what you would have paid in the 80s!
There are 4000 discounted tickets available to those who book in advance and the Premier Enclosure (including concert) will be just £15 while the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure (including concert) will be £10.
Assistant Manager at the Racecourse, Richard Hammill, said:
‘We’re all really excited about the event and looking forward to welcoming Cheryl, Mike and Jay to the Racecourse. It seems a truly fitting way to celebrate 80s Night with one of the biggest selling bands of the 80s!’
Racegoers who do not book in advance and arrive on the night will pay the normal admission prices of £23 (Premier), £15 (Grandstand & Paddock), Silver £7, Picnic Enclosure £5.
Cheryl, Mike and Jay will be joined on stage by Bobby McVay and will perform on the marquee site overlooking the Parade Ring straight after the last race.
Tickets will go on sale at 9am on Friday 27th November via the Racecourse website www.pontefract-races.co.uk or by calling 01977 781307.

After a great Summer of racing, the 2015 season comes to a close at Pontefract on Monday 19th October. The final meeting ends what has been a fantastic year at the West Yorkshire track with some memorable racing. And this final raceday is no different with a top class Listed 2 year old race on the card.
The 23rd running of the Listed totepool EBF Silver Tankard Stakes has a rich roll of honour with past winners including Comic Strip, who won the 2004 renewal for Sir Mark Prescott before being sold to race in Hong Kong and becoming one of the most successful horses in their history. With £40,000 on offer in 2015, this year’s renewal will hopefully produce a really top class horse for the 2016 season.
The main supporting race is the Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes. The race has been moved in the racing calendar this season but always attracts some high quality stayers. The 2014 contest was taken by Godolphin’s Statutory who was following up his victory in the same race in 2013 when trained by Mark Johnston. Not seen since running at Royal Ascot, the talented stayer will hopefully be back in action to bid for the hat-trick. This race also marks the final leg of the 2015 Pontefract Stayers’ Championship. This year’s competition will go right to the wire as either Tuscan Gold (22 points) or former winner Riptide (20 points) could take the title! Trainers of both horses are planning to bring their charges back for a final showdown which sees the head to head match score tied at 3 – 3!
The opening race on the card – a 2 year old nursery handicap – proved to be a very informative affair in 2014 with 14 subsequent winners coming out of the race including the first 3 home – Dark Wave, Cymro and Multellie! The 2015 race could be one to keep an eye on for the future!
There are still a few places available on the totepool Punters Package on Monday. For just £40, punters will be able to secure a place in the VIP totepool Suite in the Dalby Stand boxes with hot buffet, guest speaker and use of the private viewing balconies! To book, go online to www.pontefract-races.co.uk or give us a call on 01977 781307.
The Racecourse continues to run the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The last meeting of the season is again part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Bradford will be eligible for cheap entry on the last day.
There’ll be a chance to buy some early Christmas presents too as the Injured Jockeys Fund will have their stand on course. You’ll also be able to purchase your 2016 Annual Badge at the 2015 price!
The action gets underway for the final time in 2015 at 2.10pm with gates opening at midday.

As the flat season continues to wind down, Pontefract stage their penultimate meeting of the season on Monday 5th October. The 15th race meeting of the year at the West Yorkshire venue is bound to be well supported as trainers get one last run in to their charges before the National Hunt season takes over.
It’s a fascinating card with the feature being ‘The £40 totepool Package on 19th October Handicap’ over 1 mile. The £15,000 prize money is bound to attract some interesting types. Indeed, the 2014 race saw Marco Botti send out the ultra smart Moohaarib to win. After a highly promising 3rd in the Lincoln this year, this horse has kept Group company during the rest of the season and the 2015 winner will need to be pretty smart to match his predecessor. The race title highlights the VIP package currently available to racegoers at the last meeting of the year.
Whilst it is not one of the more valuable races on the card, The Bluff Cove Handicap will certainly be one of the most fiercely contested as it makes up the penultimate leg of the Stayers Championship at the course in 2015. The ‘Championship’ looks like going to the wire with current leader, Tuscan Gold, and 2nd placed, Riptide, both intended runners for the final two legs. With recent impressive course winners Call It On and Aviator also in the mix, it looks like being an exciting climax to the series.
Two maiden races bookend the card and both have produced potentially smart winners in the past. Godolphin have sent out the last 3 winners of the opening Racing Uk Sky Channel 432 EBF Maiden. The 1m2f race is one of the longest races for 2 year olds in the calendar and Restraint of Trade, Dullingham and Oceanographer have all posted wins for the ‘boys in blue’. John Gosden sent out the winner of the closing maiden last year as Dubai Star sluiced through the rain softened ground to scoot clear by an impressive 6 lengths.
In conjunction with Racing UK, Pontefract are offering all subscribers to the channel the chance to come to this meeting for just £10. Anyone wishing to take advantage of the discount (which also applies to a guest of the subscriber) will need to bring their 2015 metal badge to the turnstile on the day. There’s also discounted entry to the Park Suite Restaurant for subscribers (subject to availability). Anyone wishing to take advantage of these offers should call the Racecourse Office with their Racing UK membership details.

The Racecourse continues to run the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The last two meetings of the season are both part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Huddersfield and Bradford will be eligible for cheap entry at forthcoming meetings with Huddersfield postcodes the lucky ones on the 5th October. The action gets underway at 2.00pm with gates opening at midday.

As the flat season continues to wind down, Pontefract stage their second September meeting on Thursday 24th.
The highlight of the card is the Simon Scrope Dalby Screw-Driver Handicap – a Class 2 Handicap over 1m2f worth £20,000 to the winner. ‘Screw-Driver’ was the racing pin up in the early 19th century, winning at least 2 ‘Cup’ races. These ‘Cups’ consisted of four heats over 2 miles on the same day with the winner being the horse with the best aggregate score over the 8 miles! This impressive feat makes Screw-Driver just about the first Pontefract course specialist on record! It’s fitting, therefore, that Ennistown has won the last 2 runnings of this race for the mighty Godolphin operation and has a 100% record at the West Yorkshire course. Now a highly promising novice hurdler with John Ferguson, it remains to be seen whether the Godolphin operation have found a suitable replacement to score the hat-trick.
All races from Pontefract are shown live on Racing UK, and the channel lends their name to 3 races on the card. The chief supporting race, the Download The Racing UK iPad App, sees the 6f sprinters burning up the track. Paul Midgley, who has had his string in such fantastic form, won the corresponding event in 2014 with Sunraider who scorched the Ponte turf when winning by 5 impressive lengths. There will undoubtedly be at least one representative from the Westow trainer who bids for to improve his impressive course record.
In conjunction with Racing UK, Pontefract are offering all subscribers to the channel the chance to come racing in September for just £10. Anyone wishing to take advantage of the discount (which also applies to a guest of the subscriber) will need to bring their 2015 metal badge to the turnstile on the day.
The Racecourse has been running the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery throughout the season once again. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The remaining 3 meetings of the season are all part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford will all be eligible for cheap entry at forthcoming meetings with Halifax postcodes the lucky ones on the 24th September. The action gets underway at 2.20pm with gates opening at midday.

Autumn may be drawing ever closer but there are still 4 race meetings left to enjoy at Pontefract Racecourse before the season finishes. With 2 meetings in September and 2 in October, there’s plenty of fantastic racing ahead.
The first September meeting on the 17th throws the sprinting fillies in to the spotlight as the EBF support a £15,000 Handicap over 6f. The 2014 race was won in devastating fashion by Ollie Pears’ ‘Augusta Ada’ who looked like a filly going places at the time. While things haven’t panned out for her so far this year, she may well be back to defend her crown as Ponte is a course that she has run well at on several occasions before. Gran Canaria Queen (who won impressively here earlier in the season) and Spirea are both fillies who have also run well at the West Yorkshire track and could well be competing for their place in the line up.
The Pontefract Stayer’s Championship is also reaching its climax with any numbers of horses still in the running to take home the top prize, worth nearly £5,000 to winning connections in 2015. Micky Hammond reports current leader, Tuscan Gold, in good form following his Summer break. He’s also on course to take in the final 3 legs of the Championship to try and cement his lead. He’ll need to come back at the top of his game as old course favourite, and former Championship winner, Riptide, is just a few points behind him. Should the going soften up, he’ll be in his element and the contest could go right to the wire!
Racinghospitality.com, part of the Racing Profits brand, sponsor the opening race on the card – a 5 furlong maiden for 2 year olds. James Tate’s speedy Free Entry took the prize last year after a string of consistent efforts. The race is often won by an experienced 2 year old and it takes a good newcomer to come home in front.
Two of the races on Thursday will showcase future events at the Course – bookings are now being taken for both the VIP Package at the final meeting of the year on 19th October and the fantastic Christmas parties happening in December.
The Racecourse has been running the Yorkshire Postcode Lottery throughout the season once again. The scheme gives racegoers from Yorkshire the chance to come racing in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for just £2. The last 4 meetings of the season are all part of the promotion, and punters with postcodes from Hull, Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford will all be eligible for cheap entry at forthcoming meetings with Hull postcodes the lucky ones on the 17th September. The action gets underway at 2.10pm with gates opening at midday.

Where does time go? It’s already the last of the three popular Sunday Family Day fixtures at Pontefract this season – the Flying Fillies Family Day. The race day takes its name after the feature race on the day and the richest race to be run at Pontefract in 2015. With £50,000 on offer, the EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes has a rich history with some very classy fillies on the role of honour. The 2014 prize went the way of Qatar Racing’s Valonia, trained by Henry Candy who got the better of the hugely popular Spinatrix in a pulsating finish. The race sponsors, Highfield Farm, have had a number of superb horses through their paddocks in recent years including Group 1 winners Mayson and Garswood.
There’ll be some top class horses on show off the track too as favourites Mr Wolf and Mister McGoldrick, stalwarts of the northern racing circuit in recent years, will also be parading before racing starts.
As has become the custom on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s a lot going on for the kids in the Picnic Enclosure. With kid’s rides, a circus, face painting and free sweets, activity books and racecards, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to keep a look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!
There are also free Pony rides with the Ponte Clip Clop Ponies AND you can take a look behind the scenes with our minibus trips down to the start. Running from the Picnic Enclosure Entrance gates for the start of chosen races, it gives racegoers the chance to watch the calm before the equine superstars explode in to action.
On Flying Fillies Family Day, there’ll be a slightly different way to start the day as we’ll be looking for our own flying filly in our Mum’s race over the final ½ furlong before the equine stars hit the turf! So don’t forget to dust off those trainers. There’s the chance to win £250 worth of Spa Vouchers for Oulton Hall Spa so that you’ll be able to relax those aching muscles after your win! We’ll also be celebrating speedy women in sport so keep an eye out for the posters around the enclosures!
The varied and exciting card opens with the EBF Trevor Woods Memorial maiden which has thrown up a couple of speedy youngsters in the last two runnings – See the Sun and Grandads World have both been regulars in some hot sprint handicaps this season and you could see a future star in this years’ race.

The Stayers Championship will be back in action too and Micky Hammonds Tuscan Gold will hopefully be back on the track to consolidate his current lead. With lots of popular stayers right on his hooves, he’ll need to bring his A-game if he’s to take the Championship!
There are some special Family Day Tickets also available when booked in advance. 2 adults and their children can take advantage of a special price of just £22. There’s also a delicious BBQ package (£23) – perfect for a glorious Summer day! If you’d like to take advantage of any of the special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.15pm and the gates open at 11.30am!

Racing and fashion combine in the annual Pontefract Ladies Day on Wednesday 5th August and there’s never been a better excuse to buy a new outfit! Courtesy of RIU Hotels and Resorts, Pontefract Racecourse is offering an all inclusive, week long holiday for 2 to one of the RIU resorts in Mexico. The prize includes return flights from Manchester. With such a fantastic offering, the competition is bound to be fiercely contested!
The Capital FM Street Stars will be on the lookout for the Best Dressed Ladies from the minute that the gates open at 12noon and they will allocate numbered cards to 100 lucky finalists before the judging gets under way at 1pm. This year, the judging panel will consist of JoJo from the Capital FM Breakfast Show along with the National Business Manager for RIU, Maria Battersby.
The Racecourse is urging anyone wishing to be considered for the Best Dressed Lady competition to please make sure that they arrive early on the day so that they do not miss out. There’s an added incentive to arrive early as the first 500 ladies through the Premier Enclosure will get a free glass of bubbly and a buttonhole, while the first 50 gents will get a bespoke Ladies Day tie courtesy of tiesplanet.com.
There’s also some fantastic action on the track too. The feature race is the £15,000 tiesplanet.com – Ladies Love Guys In Ties Handicap. Aside from being one of the best named races on the racing calendar, it’s also a high class handicap for 3 year olds. Sir Michael Stoute’s ‘Rocket Ship’ ran his rivals ragged last year when beating Godolphins ‘Hidden Gold’ who has since gone on to Listed success. With the race normally a pointer to a high class 3 year old, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the representatives from the Newmarket stables who like to plunder this good prize.
Local bookmakers Jayne and Steve Robinson sponsor the supporting 1 mile handicap. They won’t be keen to take many bets on a Richard Fahey winner as this season’s leading trainer bids to follow up after Imshivalla scored her second course victory in this race last year. The popular Malton trainer is likely to have at least one representative in a bid to double up.
There’s a real variety of races on the card as the EBF and the Friends of Francis Hamilton team up to sponsor the £10,000 6f Maiden for 2 year olds. Godolphins ‘Maftool’ was an impressive winner of the race last year and went on to win a couple of Group 3 races later in the season. With the ‘Plus 10’ promotion making this race worth £20,000, there’s bound to be a useful juvenile or two lurking in the runners.
Last year, Richard Kendall Estate Agent opened a new office in Pontefract town centre and sponsored the opening race on the card to advertise this. They’re back again in 2015 to promote all their Estate Agencies in the area and will have some eye catching promotions on the day ahead of the race for Gentleman Amateur riders that bears their name and gets proceedings underway on the day.
With the school holidays now in full swing, there is plenty going on for the kids too with the special Mad Hatters Tea Party. It’s the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland this year and to celebrate, the Racecourse will be hosting a giant street party in the Silver Enclosure. Mums and Dads looking for things to do can book their children in to the party for just £10. With a range of activities and garden games run by a qualified crèche, you can be safe in the knowledge that the little ones will be entertained, well fed and well looked after! Full details can be found on the Racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk .
With the Park Suite Restaurant, Marquee and Hospitality Boxes already fully booked on Ladies Day, racegoers are encouraged to book their tickets and badges early to avoid disappointment. With a small number of ‘Premier Packages’ still available, there’s still the chance to upgrade your Ladies Day out! To book, or to view full details of the day, please visit the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give the office a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.10pm and the gates open at 12noon!

The second Family Day of the 2015 season at Pontefract is also the final day of the 8th Annual Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival on Sunday 26th July. With racing taking place in the White Rose County throughout the preceding week, there’s going to be a real festival feel to the days’ proceedings. Trainers and jockeys will also be bidding to get that next win on the leader board as they aim to be top dog in their respective Championships sponsored by JCT600 and Goldsborough Hall.
As has become the custom on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s a lot going on for the kids in the Picnic Enclosure. With kid’s rides, a circus, face painting and free sweets, activity books and racecards, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing. Eagle eyed kids need to keep a look out for the lucky Golden Horseshoe too – there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it!
There are also free Pony rides with the Ponte Clip Clop Ponies AND you can take a look behind the scenes with our minibus trips down to the start. Running from the Picnic Enclosure Entrance gates for the start of chosen races, it gives racegoers the chance to watch the calm before the equine superstars explode in to action.
On the track, Sky Bet support the main race on the card – the 1 mile Listed Pomfret Stakes. The race was won in scintillating fashion last year by David O’Meara’s Custom Cut who went from strength to strength winning 2 Group 3s and a Group 2 race after his Pontefract victory. He is competing at the very highest level this season and we’re extremely proud that he picked up this race on his way to the top. His name was added to a rich roll of honour of previous winners of this £45,000 race.
If high speed is your thing, then there are 2 races for the ultimate speedsters. Tiesplanet.com sponsor the main supporting race – the £15,000 6f Handicap, while Sandal BMW support the 5f Handicap that rounds off the card. These races were blitzed by sprint training champions Les Eyre and David Nicholls in 2014 and they’ll no doubt be lining up a couple of their stablemates to tear up the turf this year.
The Graham Rock Memorial handicap remembers one of the BBCs racing team and the first editor of the Racing Post. A successful owner, he teamed up with his great friend Sir Mark Prescott to win the John Smith’s Cup and Cambridgeshire with Pasternak in 1997. Sir Mark often tries to get a horse ready to run in this race and it may be worth keeping an eye on the final declarations for a Heath House runner!
There are some special Family Day Tickets also available when booked in advance. 2 adults and their children can take advantage of a special price of just £22. There’s also a delicious BBQ package (£23) – perfect for a glorious Summer day! If you’d like to take advantage of any of the special advance packages, please view the course website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk ) or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.20pm and the gates open at 11.30am!

 

Jack Berry and Red Shirt Night have a place firmly in the history of Pontefract Racecourse. As a trainer, Jack Berry was renowned for wearing his Red Shirt as his lucky symbol. He was easy to spot when cheering home the likes of Mind Games and Paris House, two of his very best horses. Since retiring, he’s been the driving force behind Jack Berry House – a state of the art rehabilitation centre for injured and retired jockeys in Malton. Now in its 23rd year, some racegoers will also don a red shirt but it’s certainly not a requirement! The charity race night is one of the most popular fixtures at the West Yorkshire track, and marks the last of the three evening fixtures during the 2015 season.

The race meeting also incorporates a Beer Festival, with local breweries Revolutions Brewing Co, Penning Breweries, Ossett Brewery and the Bier Huis all showcasing their wares. The beer festival will be held throughout the evening in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and racegoers in both this area and the Premier Enclosure will be able to access the trademark best selling ales.

After racing, the Beer Festival will continue for around an hour as local 80s tribute band Alibi take to the stage to entertain racegoers who will hopefully be enjoying some Summer sunshine!

If you’re not partaking in the Beer Festival and you’re bringing the car, then the Racecourse’s Designated Driver promotion continues at this meeting. Pick up a voucher when you park the car and you’ll be able to claim your two free soft drinks courtesy of Harrogate Spring Water. Vouchers are redeemable from designated locations around the course.

There’s an exciting racing programme as well with 6 races kicking off at 6.30pm.The feature race is the £15,000 Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap – a 5 furlong sprint which will take around just a minute to win it! Trainer Paul Midgley, whose sprinters are carrying all before them this season, won this race last year and will no doubt have a strong contingent once again!

There’s a varied supporting card with the Countrywide Freight Maiden Auction Stakes opening proceedings. This is the race where you’re likely to spot the odd star of the future. Two years ago, Treaty of Paris won this before going on to beat The Grey Gatsby at York! Last year, George Dryden tore up the turf by winning impressively by 6 lengths.

It’s the last evening meeting of the Summer at Pontefract and it’s always a popular event – make sure you take advantage of the advanced booking rates available through the Racecourse’s website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk.



The second evening race meeting of the season, the inaugural West Yorkshire Festival Night, takes place at Pontefract on Monday Evening 8th June. Thwarted by heavy rain during the day in 2014, Pontefract will be hoping that the weather Gods look more kindly on the course this time round for a race meeting with some excellent racing and a huge variety of things going on.

The West Yorkshire Festival Night gives local businesses and events the chance to promote for free anything that they have going on. There’ll be a range of stalls on the evening from Forever Living Products to Homemade Jams, and Antique Jewellery to Sweets and Cakes! Truly something for everyone!

The feature race on the card is the Mr Wolf Sprint. This £15,000 race over 6f remembers one of the all-time Ponte greats. Runners in this race have a huge mountain to climb to emulate the great Mr Wolf though – he ran at Pontefract an incredible 36 times throughout his career, winning there on 8 occasions. He ran is last race at the course back in July 2012 but will be back on the night to parade before racing starts. If you’re lucky, there may also be the chance to get a photo taken with the Ponte superstar! The race itself is always a fiercely competitive event and usually throws up a sprinter to keep on the right side of – whether they’ll be as good as Mr Wolf is anyone’s guess!

The Tony Bethell Memorial forms the 3rd round of the 2015 Stayers Championship. This year’s series is currently tied between Suprise Vendor and Stickleback on 10 points, with 3 other horses snapping at their heels including the impressive Irish raider Point The Toes who won easily at the course in April. With several stayers earmarked for the Stayers Championship races, there could be a very exciting finish in store!

Also featuring on the card is The John De Lacy Magna Carta Handicap. The race celebrates Pontefract’s association with the Magna Carta on the 800th anniversary of the date on which it was sealed. John De Lacy, Lord of Pontefract Castle, was one of the Barons instrumental in forcing King John to seal the declaration. The High Sheriff of West Yorkshire will be on hand to make the presentations to the winning connections in the £10,000 1m 2f Handicap.

The final race on the card, The Pontefract & District Golf Club Handicap over 5f brings about the start of a partnership between the Racecourse and the beautiful local Golf Course. Members of the golf club can pick up a flyer from the 19th hole which will enable them to get reduced entry to the Races on this night!

The Racecourse’s ‘Postcode Lottery’ promotion means that anyone with a WF postcode can pick up a ticket for just £2. Simply register a utility bill with the Racecourse, pay your £2 and a ticket for the evening will be sent out in the post! Numbers are limited so make sure you book quickly!