Pontefract races again has prize money of over £1m

An exciting finish at Pontefract last season. Picture: Alan Wright.
An exciting finish at Pontefract last season. Picture: Alan Wright.

Pontefract racecourse’s 2015 season starts on Easter Tuesday, April 7.

The 16-day campaign on the flat which concludes on Monday, October 19, will once again offer prize money in excess of £1 million.

This means that four of the five listed races during the season will continue to be worth £40,000 while the EBF Flying Fillies’ Stakes on Sunday, August 16, provides prize money of £50,000 as it continues to be the most valuable race of the season.

After four years of static admission prices, there’s a modest daily increase into the premier enclosure to £23 and grandstand and paddock to £15, although those who book in advance into these enclosures can do so at last year’s prices.

There is no increase in admission prices into the silver and picnic enclosures and the cost of an annual badge remains the same at £190 (single) and £255 (joint).

The annual badgeholder’s day takes place for the fifth successive year on Monday, June 29, which includes a coach trip in the morning to the Middleham stable of trainer Mark Johnston along with buffet lunch in the Dalby Stand and guided tour of the racecourse prior to the afternoon’s action on the track. It will be on a first come, first served basis.

The ‘loyalty card’ scheme will continue for a fifth year and will feature in the racecards during the first meetings of the season.

The scheme enables patrons who pay to enter the grandstand and paddock enclosure for six meetings and get the card stamped each time, free entry to another meeting of their choice later in the season.

The number and variety of inclusive ‘packages’ is maintained, including the popular ‘family tickets’ at the trio of Sunday meetings.

Once again, there are several ‘themed’ racedays, starting with the 26th annual Northern Racing College Day (Wednesday, April 29) and followed by the second 80s Night’ (Friday evening, May 22).

All things local will be celebrated on ‘West Yorkshire Festival Night’ (Monday evening, June 8) and ‘Midsummer Tea Party Day’ (Monday, June 29).

‘Taste of Yorkshire Day’ is a new innovation on Tuesday, July 7.

‘Red Shirt Night’ - incorporating a beer festival and supporting ‘Jack Berry House’, the new jockeys’ rehabilitation centre at Malton - is on Friday evening, July 17, and ‘Ladies Day’ on Wednesday, August 5.

The trio of Sunday fixtures (June 21, July 26 and August 16) continues to have strong family themes.

There will be information packs for young racegoers along with paddock commentaries and the usual family attractions.

All of these days have pre-booked special offers and packages regarding discounts on combinations of entrance, food and drink.

The racing programme once again features five established listed races - the totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes (Sunday, June 21), the Weatherbys Pipalong Stakes (Tuesday, July 7), the Sky Bet Pomfret Stakes (Sunday, July 26), the EBF Flying Fillies’ Stakes (Sunday, August 16) and the totepool.com Silver Tankard Stakes on the final day of the season, Monday, October 19.

Pontefract’s connection with the 800th anniversary of the signing of The Magna Carta is celebrated with the John de Lacy Magna Carta Handicap Stakes over one mile and a quarter on Monday evening, June 8.

John de Lacy – who was the ‘Baron of Pontefract’ – was a signatory to the Magna Carta at Runnymede in June, 1215.

The Pontefract Stayers’ Championship, which incorporates all eight races for stayers during the season (ie: races of at least two miles) continues for the twelfth year.

Hell Hath No Fury - trained near Newark by Mick Appleby - took the honours last year.

A points system operates throughout the competition, based on places obtained during the season.

The owner, trainer and stable staff of the horse accumulating the most number of points each receive a memento and £1,500 (an increase of £500) presented on the final day of the season in October.

Projects to be completed before the start of the season include the refurbishment of the Champagne Bar in the Dalby Stand and the gents toilet facilities in the paddock enclosure.