Mighty Mark Johnston's team continue record with impressive Pontefract winner Curran
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The day got under way with the Northern Commercials Novice over 1m2f.
The 10 furlong trip is the furthest distance that a two-year-old can run and the race is often won by a stamina laden horse who goes on to make his mark in staying races.
Mark Johnston has a great record in the race and he saddled two runners – Love Safari and Curran. The favourite, however, was Michael Bell’s Prepschool who had won impressively at Ripon in August.
There was a cracking finish to the contest with the favourite narrowly failing to reel in the brave front running Curran for the mighty Johnston team.
Karl Burke’s The Hun was close in behind before a yawning gap of 15 lengths back to the fourth horse.
The top three all look capable of making their mark in staying races as three-year-olds.
Following a treble at the last meeting, Rossa Ryan was back in winning action, riding two winners.
His first was Invincible Molly for trainer Ralph Beckett who was following up her win at York with a determined success in the two-year-old nursery.
She was giving weight to all her rivals and showed a fantastic attitude to win by a length.
The double came courtesy of Jack Channon’s Hiromichi who took the 16-runner mile handicap by a relatively easy 2¼ lengths.
Ryan was denied a treble by just a neck when his mount, Metahorse, failed to reel in the Easterby battalion of Mount King and Tasever.
It was an agonising wait for winning connections as the judge could barely split the two Tim Easterby runners. However, it was David Allan’s Mount King who got the verdict by the shortest margin possible.
The final race on the card had to be divided into two divisions to allow all the runners to take part and there was a different Easterby on the winner’s podium in Division One as David and Mick Easterby’s Beauty Choice showed a good turn of foot to get the better of favourite Onemorenomore under Tom Marquand.
Jo Mason was riding the winner and always looked to have matters under control.
Division Two saw a remarkable win for Richard Fahey’s Sir Maxi. Billy Garritty’s mount was well detached after two furlongs, but the leaders had gone far too quickly in front and Garritty steered his mount through tiring rivals to win, going away, by a length.
Marquand is currently lying second in the Jockeys Championship and he clawed back another winner when he steered William Haggas’ Safety Catch to victory in the 1½m maiden.
Wearing the famous Oppenheimer silks, the daughter of Cracksman saw out the trip well and may be able to make her mark in decent handicaps in the future.
The 2023 Stayers Championship is entering the final stages and popular veteran Black Kalanisi made his first appearance at Pontefract, a winning one.
The 10-year-old has been a wonderful horse for his connections, winning on the flat, over hurdles and over fences. He showed plenty of zest on this occasion, making a quick mid race manoeuvre to press the pace before striking the front in the final two furlongs and battling on gamely.
Ben Curtis was full of praise for his partner suggesting that there would be more wins to follow in his career.
The final meeting of the 2023 season will be run on Monday, October 23 before the flat 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 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 the course’s website, which can be found at www.pontefract-races.co.uk