The entire race meeting is unique in the fact that the body of the card sees races sponsored by competitors solely to support the Northern Racing College. William Hill and Ladbrokes set aside their commercial rivalry on this day in order to encourage the grass roots and future of the sport.
The Northern Racing College, based just outside Doncaster, was set up in 1984 and provides a range of courses at all levels for people who are looking at the horseracing industry as a career. It also offers those currently in the business the chance to develop their qualifications and skills.
It was fitting that there was a double on the card for a young up and coming trainer/jockey combination in Adam West and Toby Eley. The trainer sent three horses on the long journey from Epsom and Regular Income and Peggie Sue were both given accomplished rides by 7lb claimer Eley.
Regular Income looked to have a mountain to climb in the Doncaster Equine College Handicap as Ideal Candy kicked for home turning in. However, he produced a stunning finish to get up by a neck. Peggie Sue also produced a power packed finish to get up in the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Handicap. The course’s ‘It’s Champion’ promotion gives racegoers 30 minutes to claim a special offer if Richard Fahey trains, or Danny Tudhope rides, a winner. Punters did not have long to wait with Richard Fahey training the opening race winner and Danny Tudhope riding the winner of the second!
Kidda showed a huge amount of improvement from his racecourse debut at Thirsk when turning the form around with Xcelente who had beaten him fair and square first time out. Quickly away, the Fahey trained colt looked a different prospect this time. The Danny Tudhope ridden Desert Icon was an extremely stylish winner of the 1m2f maiden for William Haggas. Having made his debut in a traditionally hot race at Newmarket two weeks earlier, the son of Sea The Stars won with a good deal in hand.
There was a whole host of Pontefract specialists lining up for the Ladbrokes Sprint over 6f. Round The Island, Mr Orange and Highly Sprung brought top course form to the race having won 10 times at Pontefract between them. It was Les Eyre’s Highly Sprung who bounced back to form to secure his fourth win at the track under a great ride from Joe Fanning.
There was a shock in the Northern Racing College Handicap when Gale Force Maya was given a brilliantly timed ride by Paul Mulrennan to get up in the dying strides for trainer Michael Dods. She was sent off at a massive 33-1 but, on just her fourth racecourse appearance, and first start of 2019, she could be a filly to keep on the ride side of.
There was a well backed winner of the Zilco Training Handicap over 1m when Kripke wore down long time leader Casement in the final furlong under a determined ride by Ben Curtis. He’s a typical improver from the David Barron stable and may be able to continue his improvement through the season.
The next meeting is the first evening fixture of the season – the hugely popular 80s Night with Billy Ocean on Friday, May 24. Tickets are going fast and racegoers are encouraged to book early. Full details at www.pontefract-races.co.uk