Mr Orange is popular winner at Pontefract

Gurkha Friend (centre), ridden by Graham Lee, won the Colstrope Cup Handicap at Pontefract on Friday. Picture: Alan Wright.
Gurkha Friend (centre), ridden by Graham Lee, won the Colstrope Cup Handicap at Pontefract on Friday. Picture: Alan Wright.

The final evening race meeting of the season was held at Pontefract on Friday with the annual Red Shirt Night (writes Richard Hammill).

The charity evening, hosted by former trainer Jack Berry to raise money for the Injured Jockeys Fund, also saw a number of local breweries take over part of the paddock lawn for their annual beer festival.

Many racegoers were resplendent in red shirts – the legendary ‘good luck’ symbol that Jack Berry wore to the track whenever he had a runner.

The feature Betfred supported sprint has been farmed in recent years by sprint master trainer Paul Midgley.

The Westow handler sent out two runners in a bid to win the race for the fifth time - favourite Gamesome and previous dual winner of the race, Silvanus.

While Gamesome ran a good race to finish second, he had no answer to the front running Final Venture who stretched away impressively in the last furlong to win by an easy six lengths.

The winner had been collared late on when trying to make all the running over six furlongs here the previous week but showed some ‘course specialist’ potential dropped to five furlongs this time.

Paul Midgley did not leave the course without a winner though as his Mr Orange was a popular winner of the closing Jack Berry House Handicap.

The winner is named after Graham Orange, voice of Go Racing In Yorkshire for so many years who recently retired.

Mr Orange has now had five trips to Pontefract, finishing fifth, fourth, third and second on his previous four attempts before hitting the jackpot this time.

The Colstrope Cup over a mile was the chief supporting race on the card.

Having been sidelined by a virus for much of June and only back riding for a week, Graham Lee rode a masterful race from the front on the Karen McLintock trained Gurkha Friend - making much of the running and quickening again when joined in the last furlong and having enough in reserve to hold off previous course winner, Spring Offensive.

The four year old was well regarded as a juvenile and is really starting to fulfil his promise now having won two of his last three starts.

Mr Pontefract, Richard Fahey, narrowly denied with Spring Offensive, had already got his name on the scoresheet when Belle Meade made a winning debut in the opening Countrywide Freight Maiden.

She was simply pushed out hands and heels under Tony Hamilton to get the better of her stablemate Right Action.

The pair pulled nine lengths clear of the third horse and it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on the progress of both these promising two year olds.

There was another Yorkshire winner on the card as Tim Easterby’s Icefall took the totepool Maiden and was the joint longest priced winner on the card at 16-1.

Beaten at York last time out by the smart Master Blueeyes, the winner was possibly overpriced, and showed a great attitude to fend off Reconcilliation.

One of the best finishes off the night was saved for the penultimate race over one mile, two furlongs.

The well backed favourite, Mark Johnston’s Signed and Sealed, had just been touched off at Beverley earlier in the week and was backed as if defeat was out of the question.

When Franny Norton kicked his mount six lengths clear entering the home straight, the roars went up and punters started making their way to collect their winnings.

However, the race was far from over as 16-1 shot Intrigue, who’d missed the break and been scrubbed along for some way, got up to lead in the shadows of the post.

Intrigue had been promising for William Haggas and was making her debut for the Daniel Kubler yard.

Under a never say die ride from Tom Queally, the filly was very brave in cutting down the long time leader and may be able to double up now that she has some confidence. It was just the second visit to Pontefract for trainer Daniel Kubler who will no doubt send a few more runners north now.