Bumper crowd and ITV cameras at Pontefract Racecourse for first of its popular family days
and live on Freeview channel 276
A fun filled Yorkshire Heritage Family Day brought an array of entertainment with a typical Yorkshire twist, both on and off the track, and took place under beautiful summer skies, despite the forecast of torrential thunderstorms, writes Richard Hammill.
Before racing got underway, the Yorkshire themed entertainment was in full flow with the Flat Cap Brass Band kicking off proceedings throughout the enclosures.
With whippet racing, a Yorkshire Pudding throwing competition, face painting, kids rides and giant garden games, there was plenty to keep everyone occupied.
With over £200,000 worth of prize money up for grabs, there were some big fields, competitive racing and some fantastic finishes.
Feature race was the Listed Sky Bet Pontefract Castle Fillies Stakes and there was a typically strong line-up with representatives from the major Newmarket and Yorkshire bases as well as an Irish contender.
Caius Chorister was sent off the favourite for David Menuisier, but he was unable to establish an uncontested lead and dropped away in the home straight.
At this point, Roger Varian’s daughter of Frankel, Voodoo Queen, burst onto the scene and quickly slipped her field.
While John Gosden’s One Evening was closing near the line, David Egan’s mount still had a 1¾ length cushion.
Varian was on course to see his winner and is now looking to step her up to Group 3 company.
Sky Bet offer a number of incentives to encourage horses to run at the tracks that form part of the Sunday Series. There’s a £100,000 bonus available to any horse that can win at three or more of these events and both Blow Your Horn and Derry Lad took a step closer to claiming this incredible bonus with each winning their second race in the series.
Ian Williams’ Blow Your Horn took the Pontefract Cup, having scored at Beverley a couple of weeks earlier.
Trying the extended 2¼m trip for the first time, Richard Kingscote’s gelding struck for home in the finishing straight and never looked likely to be caught.
Derry Lad came over from Ireland for Kevin Coleman and Shane Gray and travelled supremely well, quickening up impressively to take the honours in the middle distance category, having won at Hamilton six weeks earlier.
Both now look to Haydock and Sandown for the remaining two fixtures in the series and the chance to claim the bonus.
Another incentive for competitors in the Sunday Series is the Jockey Cup. With points allocated to jockeys finishing in the first four each race, there’s a £10,000 prize for the leading rider on each day.
Oisin Orr picked up his second Jockey Cup of the 2023 series courtesy of his win on Mauna Lor and his second on Wootton’Sun.
Mauna Lor ran in the opening 6f novice and looked to be fighting a losing battle as Ralph Beckett’s Whoop Whoop travelled strongly and went clear in the home straight. However, Richard Fahey’s representative was not to be denied and rallied in tenacious fashion to win by half-a-length.
Wootton’Sun held every chance to make it a double, but was readily outpointed by Irish ace Derry Lad.
There was a cracking finish to the 1m2f handicap with the first three horses separated by a matter of inches. Paddy The Squire, Forceful Speed and Highwaygrey each led at some point in the last 100 yards, but it was William Buick’s mount, Forceful Speed, that had his head in front where it mattered.
George Boughey’s representative was maintaining his 100% record at the track having won his maiden at the course as a two-year-old.
The final two races were the 1m handicap and the 6f handicap and both looked competitive affairs on paper.
However, the 1m handicap saw Silver Sword run out one of the most impressive winners of the day.
Trained in Newmarket by Dylan Cunha, the three-year-old grey had been a tricky customer, refusing to race on a couple of occasions. However, they’ve now unlocked the secret to him and, having finished runner up to the classy Torito on his last run, he had no problems in seeing off his rivals with ease by 3¼ lengths.
The trainer spoke about him in glowing terms and he is highly likely going to continue to improve.
The finale went to Shalaa Asker for the Ontoawinner team who bravely fought off all challengers, taking the prize by ¾ length.
The next race meeting at Pontefract track is next Monday (July 3). The popular Art of Racing Raceday sees racegoers take up guest tipster roles as well as picking the best turned out horses in each race. Full details are available at the racecourse website (www.pontefract-races.co.uk).