PONTEFRACT’S first evening race meeting of the season on Friday attracted a huge crowd of around 10,000.
Racegoers enjoyed the summer sunshine and danced into the night along with pop stars Bananarama, who performed live after the last race.
As well as a fantastic party atmosphere, there was also some superb racing, with doubles for trainers Mark Johnston and David O’Meara.
Having taken the £20,000 Youngsters Conditions Stakes in 2016 with the enigmatic Yalta, Mark Johnston was once again responsible for the favourite for the 2017 renewal in the shape of Rufus King.
Having made his debut in a decent maiden at Newcastle a week earlier, the colt was well backed to step up on that form and made no mistakes, powering clear to win by six lengths from the Richard Fahey trained Inviolable Spirit.
Despite looking far from the finished article, Rufus King is held in high regard by Johnston and looks likely to hold his own when stepped up in grade.
There was a double on the night for Johnston when his Bonnie Arlene took the fillies’ handicap over one mile, two furlongs. Winning for the first time, she showed a willing attitude to get the better of the well backed Livella Fella who ran a brave race in defeat under top weight.
Trainer O’Meara and jockey Danny Tudhope took the first two races with Mon Beau Visage and Mutadaffeq.
Mon Beau Visage was an impressive winner of the opening race, cruising into contention before quickening up nicely to win by one and a half lengths from Mick Easterby’s Hanseatic.
Both horses were well supported in the market beforehand and looked to be well handicapped coming into the race and it might be worth keeping them both in mind for races in the near future.
Mutadaffeq had been an impressive winner on his seasonal debut at Thirsk and was made favourite to double up at Pontefract despite being hit by a 9lb rise in the handicap.
Local trainer Richard Whitaker was on the scoresheet when Tumblewind took the Constant Security Services Handicap over five furlongs.
The seven year old mare had gone into a few notebooks when finishing third at Ripon on her previous start and was another well backed winner on a night when the bookies were sent running for cover.
Any number of runners held a chance as the field approached the furlong marker and it briefly looked as if Stanghow might win the race for the second year in a row, but it was Tumblewind who quickened up best under a good ride from 5lb claimer Lewis Edmunds.
The final race on the card went the way of Castle Hill Cassie who just held on from runner up Benjamin Thomas, who, once again, found just one too good. Owned by Pontefract regulars, the Ontoawinner syndicate, the three year old Castle Hill Cassie battled on gamely.
Pontefract’s next meeting is the Rugby League Evening on Monday, June 12.
The first race is at 6.40pm and season ticket holders for Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity can all access the course for just £5 on production of their season tickets.
Full details are available at www.pontefract-races.co.uk