First family day of season at Pontefract

Renfrew Street, ridden by Franny Norton, is pictured winning a race at Pontefract's last meeting, the inaugural rugby league night . Picture: Alan Wright.
Renfrew Street, ridden by Franny Norton, is pictured winning a race at Pontefract's last meeting, the inaugural rugby league night . Picture: Alan Wright.

Pontefract stages its first family day of the season this Sunday, which is Father’s Day.

It is always a hugely popular event because it’s the annual totepool Flat Cap and Whippet Family Day.

There’s an action packed day ahead with activities getting underway when the gates open at 11.30am.

Whippets from the Yorkshire Pedigree Whippet Racing Club will take to the racecourse between 12.30 and 1.30pm as they set the scene for their equine counterparts later in the afternoon.

With around 30 whippets racing over a series of races, it’s going to be a fast and furious way to start proceedings.

Whippets and horses are not the only races taking place - a team of ferrets will also be stepping in to the spotlight with racing in the Picnic Enclosure throughout the afternoon.

It’s worth dusting off that old flat cap from the back of the wardrobe as well. The first 500 people wearing a flat cap will win a spot prize of either a tote voucher, a drinks voucher or a racecard.

As has become tradition on Sundays at Pontefract, there’s lots going on for young racegoers in the Picnic Enclosure. With kids rides, a circus, face painting and free activity books and racecards, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied while mums and dads enjoy some top class racing.

Eagle eyed kids need to look out for the lucky golden horseshoe - there’s a hamper of sweets to be won for the first person to find it.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens down at the start of the races - in the calm before the race explodes into action - then you’ll be able to pick up a free minibus which will take you down to the starting stalls and bring you back after the race.

There are also free pony rides as well.

On the track, totepool sponsor all seven races with the highlight being the £40,000 listed totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes.

Farmed in recent years by Tom Dascombe’s high class Brown Panther, John Gosden broke the stranglehold when his Freedom’s Light took the honours in 2014. Last year, Luca Cumani’s subsequent group race winner Connecticut turned the race into a procession.

The 2016 Pontefract Stayers Championship is shaping up to be a really competitive affair and round four is the Pontefract Cup. American Life holds a slender lead so far - only just ahead of Madam Lilibet, Almost Gemini and last week’s impressive winner Bulas Belle. It’s all up for grabs.

Being Father’s Day, Pontefract are also offering a number of special packages to make dad’s day extra special.

The Father’s Day Paddock Package (£40) and the VIP Premier Father’s Day Package (£100) both offer great value for families of two adults and two under 18s.

Family tickets (£22) are also available in advance for two adults and their children.

To take advantage of any of these special advance packages, visit the course website at or give them a call on 01977 781307. Racing gets underway at 2.10pm and the gates open at 11.30am.