The leading jockey to date at Pontefract in 2021 is Kevin Stott and he registered a double on the day to take his season total at the West Yorkshire track to 11 wins.
The first of his latest wins came aboard Kevin Ryan’s Aleezdancer. The two-year-old had won two soft ground novices earlier in the season before being pitched into the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket.
Back down in class on easier ground, the top weight won cosily by one-and-a-half lengths and may be able to strike again before the end of the season while his favoured ground conditions remain widespread.
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Stott’s double came aboard Rebecca Menzies’ Wynford in the Bluff Cove Stayers Handicap. The race was run in a downpour and the 2m2f trip became a real war of attrition as the winner and runner up, Dereham, pulled well clear of their rivals.
The winner drifted across the second, forcing Dereham’s jockey to take evasive action. However Wynford was allowed to keep the race but Kevin Stott did pick up a three-day ban for careless riding.
It is not every day that a Cheltenham festival winning horse appears at Pontefract but Paul Webber’s Indefatigable was a notable runner in the mile-and-a-half maiden. Having her first turf run on the flat, she was sent off a well backed second favourite behind Sir Michael Stoute’s Tiger Beetle, a half brother to champion miler Palace Pier.
Tiger Beetle and David O’Meara’s Doctor Parnassus went for home over two furlongs out and looked to have the race between them. However, as stamina came in to play, Indefatigable began to find her stride and started to close rapidly and eventually got up to win by half-a-length.
The winning trainer was on course to welcome in his 2020 festival winner and reported that she would be seen next at the Grade 2 hurdle at Wetherby later in the month.
The opening race on the card saw a hugely impressive winner in Dillian for the Michael Bell team.
The son of Camelot had made his debut in a hot Newmarket maiden won by the Royal Lodge runner up, Coroebus. Up in trip and in calmer waters, Dillian looked like a class act and effortlessly strode clear to win by four-and-a-quarter lengths for his motionless jockey Danny Tudhope.
A maximum field of 17 runners went to post for the 6f Handicap including course regulars Mr Orange and 2020 race renewal winner, Penny Pot Lane.
However, it was one of Mr Orange’s stablemates, and one of the bigger price runners, Run This Way, who took the race by an easy four lengths.
Relatively unconsidered at 40-1, Graham Lee’s mount raced wide on the track before making headway to lead in the home straight and is likely to face a rise in the handicap.
With 22 runners declared for the Go Racing In Yorkshire handicap over one mile, the race was split into two divisions.
Pam Sly’s Dark Spec took the first division. Having had four years off through injury, the gelding was making just his third start since 2017. However, now back at full fitness, the winner will have to carry bigger weights in the future, but could easily score again if turned out quickly.
The second division was won by Gainsbourg for the Edward Bethell/PJ McDonald team. With frequent showers through the afternoon, the three-year-old winner relished the softening ground and he, along with runner-up Wots The Wifi Code, pulled clear of his elders to score cosily.
The remaining race on the card went to John Quinn and Jason Hart and their Empirestateofmind. The winner has been in electric form recently, winning three of his last five outings and being beaten a head and a nose on his other two runs.
His fine run of form means that he’s been raised 15lbs in the last six weeks, but while he continues in such good heart, he may not have reached the ceiling of his ability.
The final meeting of the 2021 season will be run on Monday, October 18 before the horse racing season hands over to the National Hunt courses. A number of the winter horses will be stretching their legs on the track after the meeting on the 18th and it is often a good chance to catch a first glimpse of some of the winter stars.
Tickets for the final meeting of the year can be bought at www.pontefract-races.co.uk