Spectators return to Pontefract Racecourse

It was back in October 2019 when spectators were last on course at Pontefract but, as restrictions start to ease, a limited number of racegoers returned to the track for their race meeting on Friday evening.

Angel Bleu takes the honours in the feature race at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright
Angel Bleu takes the honours in the feature race at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright

Just under 2,500 delighted racing fans enjoyed the first evening race meeting of 2021 and were treated to some fantastic action on the track.

The feature race on the card was The £19,000 EBF Stallions VW Van Centre Youngsters Conditions Race. The race often throws up a horse with Royal Ascot aspirations and the 2021 running looked a strong event on paper with unbeaten representatives from the Richard Hannon and Tom Dascombe yards along with Saeed Bin Suroor’s first two year old runner of the season.

However, it was Ralph Beckett’s Angel Bleu who took the honours and also booked his trip to Royal Ascot in June. Hector Crouch guided the son of Dark Angel to a comfortable 1¾ length victory and took his career record to two wins out of three.

Cormier forges ahead in a driving finish to win the Constant Security Handicap. Picture: Alan Wright

There was another smart performer on show when William Haggas’ Skyrunner stretched 7 lengths clear of his rivals in the OBP Utilities Ltd Novice Stakes. Danny Tudhope did the steering and the three-year-old looks as though he will be an interesting proposition when he steps up in class.

The southern raiders continued their dominant form on the night when Chris Wall and Harry Dunlop both added their names to the scoresheet. Chris Wall took the opening race with Bucephalus, guided to success by jockey Seb Woods.

The four-tear-old had been starting to look well handicapped and proved his wellbeing when streaking clear on his favoured softer surface. Harry Dunlop’s Maxine is another who has come into her own with the softening ground. She’s now won her last two starts by a total of 19 lengths and is likely to face a big rise in the weights but very much looks like a horse to keep on the right side of.

Brian Ellison has both his flat and National Hunt horses in great form at the moment and his Cormier showed his versatility when taking the 1m4f Constant Security Handicap.

The five-year-old had been running well over hurdles – running at the Cheltenham Festival before finishing second in the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock on his most recent outing.

He is clearly improved since his last flat outing and looked like a horse to follow as he scored a comfortable success over David O’Meara’s previous course winner, Sudona.

The north struck again in the last race when Tim Easterby’s popular sprinter, Bossipop, registered his 9th career success. Cam Hardie took the race by the scruff of the neck from the start and never looked likely to be reeled in.

The next meeting at Pontefract is on Monday evening and the course will once again welcome back a limited number of spectators.

Guidelines by the British Horseracing Authority and the DCMS mean that numbers will continue to be severely restricted and certain areas will be inaccessible to the public, but limited tickets are still available and are currently on sale via the website (pontefract-races.co.uk).

Tickets must be bought in advance and, under current legislation, no walk ups are available on the day.