Category Archives: Pontefract


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 to secure your tickets now.

A Day’s Racing at Pontefract- I Should Be So Lucky!

  • 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!”



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 – 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.