Pontefract’s first evening meeting of the season took place last Friday when Billy Ocean took to the stage in front of a sell out crowd of around 12,000 people.
Playing hits like ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’, ‘Red Light Spells Danger’, ‘Caribbean Queen’, ‘Suddenly’ ,‘When The Going Gets Tough (the tough get going)’ and the classic ‘Get Outta My Dreams; Get Into My Car’ it truly was an 80s Night to remember.
As well as the 80s star on the stage, the crowds could well have witnessed an equine star when Monoski scorched clear in the feature EBF Stallions VW Van Centre Youngsters Conditions Stakes.
Trainer Mark Johnston typically runs a decent two-year-old in this race and Monoski could now be heading to Royal Ascot on the back of his six length demolition of Show Me Show Me, who had previously won the Brocklesby at Doncaster.
There was a double on the card for jockey Ben Curtis, who steered Dapper Man and After John to success on the night.
Mick Channon’s After John had finished second to Sir Michael Stoute’s highly touted Jubiloso at Newbury last time out and appreciated the drop in grade to deny the Charles Hills trained Qutob.
Dapper Man blitzed his rivals from the front in the 5f Constant Security Handicap and refused to let his rivals pass. Clearly on excellent terms with himself, the son of Dandy Man could not be pulled up after the winning post and went on to complete a whole circuit of the West Yorkshire track – just over two miles!
There was a popular success for Miss Sheridan in the opening race of the night for owners John Blackburn and Andy Turton who are regulars at Pontefract. Their mare was winning for the second time at Pontefract and rallied bravely to score by a head from Straight Ash.
The first time that Champagne Rules ran at Pontefract was back in 2014 when he contested the fiercely competitive High Rise Maiden Stakes. He won that day at 100-1 beating a whole host of Newmarket raiders. He returned on Friday night and was a hugely impressive winner of the 1m4f handicap for trainer Sharon Watt and jockey Phil Dennis.
The Napoleons Casino Bradford Fillies Handicap saw a well backed favourite in the shape of Navigate By Stars for trainer Tom Dascombe and jockey Richard Kingscote.
The daughter of Sea The Stars had finished fourth at Windsor on her return to action in 2019 but the winner of that race, Telecaster, has subsequently taken the Dante at York and is high in the betting for the Epsom Derby. Navigate By Stars did not face anything of that calibre on this occasion and duly gained her first win by a comfortable 1¾ lengths.
Pontefract’s next race meeting is another evening fixture. Sports Night, on Monday, June 10, and will see local sports teams Castleford Tigers, Leeds Rhinos, Bradford Bulls and Pontefract Squash Club come to the track. Season ticket holders will get into the course for just £5 through the Grandstand & Paddock Gates if they bring their season ticket along with them. Full details are available at the racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk