Joe Fanning in pole position to be 2023 leading jockey at Pontefract Racecourse
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With the Lionesses in action in the World Cup Final crowds flocked to the track to take their place for kick-off and watch the big game on course before the six interactive zones followed on straight after the final whistle, writes Richard Hammill.
The Horse Zone kicked off the racecourse proceedings with Pontefract’s Racehorse Ambassador, Nearly Caught, leading the parade of ex-racers alongside Goldream and Chil The Kite.
With more than £1.25million worth of prize money won between them, racegoers lined up to see the stars in their retirement with New Beginnings.
The Industry Zone was next up with former Gold Cup winning jockey, Andrew Thornton, talking to racegoers about what goes on behind the scenes in the Weighing Room. With Racing TV pundit Martin Dixon joining Andrew for the Tipster Zone, there was non stop action in the build up to the first race.
The most prestigious race of the year at Pontefract is the £60,000 EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes.
There was an international feel to the 2023 renewal with the superstar Spanish filly, Samedi Rien, in the line-up. Princess Shabnam and Gale Force Maya had finished first and second in this race last year and were both out to try again.
However, it was George Boughey’s Believing who took the honours. Penalised for winning a Group 3 race earlier in the season, the three-year-old gave weight and a beating to her 10 rivals in some style.
Having proved difficult in the stalls in recent starts, the winner had undergone extensive stalls training in recent weeks. On her best behaviour, Believing was held up at the rear of the field and made effortless progress to lead with a furlong to travel.
She went on to score by a neck from Ralph Beckett’s Funny Story in a fast time.
The trainer reported that Believing had always been extremely talented and is planning an audacious trip to Ascot on Champions Day for a tilt at a Group 1.
Yorkindness is fast becoming a Ponte specialist and she made it three out of three at the course this season in the Moor Top Farm Shop Handicap.
Under regular pilot Joe Fanning, she hit the front inside the home straight and never looked like being caught, winning by a cosy one-and-a-half lengths.
The win took the daughter of Nathaniel clear in the Pontefract Racecourse’s Stayers Championship for 2023 and also meant that Fanning moved into pole position in the race to be leading jockey at Pontefract.
There were a couple of eye-catchingly impressive performances on the track through the day.
Master of My Fate was well backed to win on debut in the opening novice and cruised through the race with jockey Danny Tudhope looking for non existent dangers with a furlong to run.
Easing ahead, the two-year-old won by an easy three lengths without having to be extended.
Ed Dunlop’s Citizen General was wearing blinkers for the first time in the 1m4f handicap and he scooted clear by a jaw dropping 11 lengths from James Ferguson’s Roaring Legend.
The winner can run again in the next few days before his new handicap mark takes effect and he looks a certainty if turned out quickly.
Sir Maxi had won over the course and distance in July, but the runner-up on that day, El Montejean, took his revenge this time by 1 ¾ lengths.
Clearly appreciating the faster surface, the winner was never far from the pace and held on from the fast finishing Sir Maxi, who may have got closer had he not been slowly away at the start.
The Hawley Family sponsored the 1m novice on the card in memory of Kenneth who passed away in 2022. The race was won by the favourite, Evening Story, who made all the running for trainers Daniel and Clare Kubler under jockey Ben Curtis.
There are just four meetings left to look forward to this year. The next is the Art of Racing Raceday on September 21.
The Ponte track has now staged 11 meetings this year with 10 of them attracting bigger attendances than last year’s equivalent meetings.
For more details about upcoming events visit www.pontefract-races.co.uk