Pontefract racegoers zone in on family day experience

The third and final Family Day of the season at Pontefract took place on Sunday with seven fantastic races and an action-packed day for families and racegoers to enjoy.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 8:00 am
Double Or Bubble, ridden by Jack Mitchell, is clear on the way to winning the EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright

Seven zones were located around the enclosures, giving racegoers the perfect opportunity to learn a little more about the industry.

The day started with a Jockey Zone, where ex-jockey George Chaloner walked the final six furlongs with a group of eager racegoers to talk about how to ride the Ponte course.

Punters were given a helping hand with their tips at the Tipster Zone with our expert panel and could make their selections at the Quiet Zone in the Betting Hall with a free tea or coffee.

Duty Of Care, ridden by Kevin Stott, gets up in a close finish to win the William Hill Pick Your Places Handicap at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright

Other zones included the Industry Zone, where racegoers were treated to a talk about the processes in the weighing room with our raceday presenter, swiftly followed by the Horse Zone, where New Beginnings paraded two ex-racers, Goldream and Nearly Caught – winners of almost £1million in prize money between them.

Feature race was the £57,500 EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes – the most valuable race run at Pontefract in 2021 – and there was a stellar line-up with three runners from Ireland, including two from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard.

The internationally successful trainer was having his first ever runner at the track, but did have a winner.

While the overseas visitors failed to bother the judge, it was the well backed favourite, Double or Bubble, who took the prize for Newmarket handler Chris Wall and jockey Jack Mitchell.

Double Or Bubble had been considered good enough to contest the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot but failed to see out the mile journey on that occasion.

Dropped to a stiff six furlongs on her favoured fast ground, she was never far from the pace and stayed on in impressive fashion to win by two lengths from outsider Shepherds Way for race sponsors Highfield Farm.

The winner will step up in class again but her reliance on fast ground may hamper big end of season targets.

While Aidan O’Brien’s runners failed to hit the target in the big race of the day, another ‘O’Brien’, Fergal, made his first runner at Pontefract a winning one when Teqany made all the running in the two-mile Moor Top Farm Shop Handicap.

The striking grey is a decent hurdler and had finished second to Sceau Royal in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton but is reinventing himself as a flat horse and has now won his last two races, seeing out the trip well for Dougie Costello.

Dash of Spice was the outsider of the field for the 1m4f handicap, but was given a fine ride by Tom Marquand to show younger rivals a clean pair of heels.

Marquand set a stop start pace and then stole a lead entering the straight which the well fancied pair of Possible Man and Boltaway could never quite erode. Three lengths was the official winning margin at the line ahead of Sir Michael Stoute’s Possible Man.

The trainer of the runner-up went one better when Duty Of Care took the 1m handicap by a short head from Ready To Venture, thwarting a double for Marquand. The winner, ridden by Kevin Stott, is a half brother to Expert Eye, winner of the Breeders Cup Mile, and looks like a fast improving colt.

There were two ‘novice’ races on the card – one for two-year- olds and one for three-year-olds. A novice flat race is a race for horses who have not won more than two races on the flat. Remarkably, both races went to trainer David O’Meara who is now leading the race to be the champion Pontefract trainer in 2021.

The two-year-old race went the way of Forced Entry who had not shown much on his two previous outings but looked a different proposition all together at Pontefract, leading shortly after the turn into the straight and battling on well to beat Where’s Diana and Bloomington Bride, both of who had shown good form.

The three-year-old novice was won in impressive style by Alpha Cru who followed up her win at the track on July 25.

A step up in grade is now on the cards for the winner who is undefeated since she arrived at the O’Meara yard from Ireland.

The final race on the card was the Sunpak Potatoes Handicap over six furlongs. Cottam Lane has been running in some good races and had finished fourth to Stewards Cup winner Mr Wagyu at York.

Ridden by 7lb claimer Oisin McSweeney, Cottom Lane was fast away and was never seriously threatened and won by a length. Course favourite Mr Orange fluffed the start and was always behind before making eye catching headway to finish fourth. His time could be coming soon.

A successful day at Ponte brought the end of this year’s Family Days but there are still five more fixtures to enjoy this year with the next race meeting a rescheduled evening meeting on Friday, September 3, featuring a Beer Festival and Magic Queen performing after the last race. For more details about upcoming events visit the course’s website www.pontefract-races.co.uk