Racegoers were treated to eight fantastic races and some lovely autumn sunshine on an afternoon of competitive racing, close finishes and lots of smiles at Pontefract on Monday.
The people of Yorkshire love a name to follow – whether it’s a horse or a jockey – and punters were quick to latch on to the quirkily named Sod’s Law and Pontefract’s 2017 leading jockey, Danny Tudhope.
Sod’s Law did not let supporters down when following up his Ffos Las win in early September. Jockey Kieran O’Neill, a rare visitor to Pontefract seems to know exactly where the winner’s enclosure is and registered his third win at the West Yorkshire track in 2018. He gave his mount a perfectly timed ride to take the £15,000 Leslie Burton (Fisher) Handicap Stakes run over one mile.
Held up in the rear throughout, the gelding did not help his jockey by hanging left into the running rail, but O’Neill did not panic and steered his mount to victory by one length.
Connections hinted that the gelding will be seen at Haydock Park in the coming weeks and with soft ground an absolute necessity, he looks a horse to keep a close eye on.
They say good things come in threes and course champion jockey Danny Tudhope highlighted this by riding a treble on the day.
Mark Johnston saddled the hot favourite, Gravistas, in the opening 1m2f EBF Novice Stakes. Johnston has a great record in this race with classy handicapper, Austrian School, taking the honours last year. However, his runner had no answer to Tudhope’s mount, Just Hubert, who powered clear for Willie Muir.
The colt was making only his third start and will improve from this win. He has an entry in the 2019 Derby and is very much a horse to follow.
The consistent Zeshov was Tudhope’s second winner on the day, for local trainer Rebecca Bastiman.
Tracking the leaders throughout, Tudhope produced his mount to take the lead one furlong from home to gallop home strongly to the line.
The lucky last gave Tudhope his third winner of the afternoon when he steered home the Hamdan Al Maktoum owned Nomoathaj for trainer William Haggas.
A maiden contest for three-year-olds and up, Nomoathaj came from stall 10 and led in the final furlong, getting the better of the well backed Johnston newcomer, Matterhorn.
The treble puts Tudhope at the top of the leader board once again in the Ponte jockeys title for 2018.
Silvestre De Sousa is as hungry for winners as ever and scored on the Mick Appleby trained Lincoln Park for Craig Buckingham and Gary Dewhurst in the six furlong Nursery Handicap.
Making all of the running, he knuckled down bravely to deny the Richard Fahey trained Don Logan.
Clearly relishing the softer ground, the colt had run well a couple of times at York earlier in the year and was having his first run for the Appleby yard.
Appleby continues in flying form at the moment and is producing plenty of winners.
Round seven of the Pontefract Stayers Championship over 2m2f went to Bodacious Name for the John Quinn yard. Ridden by Jason Hart, the gelding was held up at the back of the field and showed a good turn of foot in the home straight to take advantage of the traffic problems encountered by hot favourite So Near So Farahh who won at the track at the last meeting.
The stayers champion for 2018 has already been crowned with Becky The Thatcher taking the honours following her win and three seconds in the championship earlier in the season.
Andrea Atzeni does not ride at Ponte very often and made the journey worthwhile when riding the winner of the one mile Napoleons Casino Bradford Handicap Stakes for trainer Ian Williams. Bezos, whose last win came in February, tracked the leaders before striking for home two furlongs out. He has an entry at Chelmsford this Saturday and, if declared, would look to have a great chance of following up for his in-form trainer.
Course champion trainer Richard Fahey rarely leaves the track without a winner and scored when Sempre Presto won for the second time at the course in 2018.
Owner Mrs Helen Steel has been a hugely successful owner with the Fahey clan for many years.
Fahey is currently leading the Pontefract trainers championship again in 2018 with 11 winners and is five in front of closest rivals Mark Johnston and Mick Appleby.
The final meeting at Pontefract is the season finale on Monday, October 22 when the highlight is the £40,000 Silver Tankard Listed Race for two-year olds.
It’s the final opportunity to meet up with family and friends for a great afternoon’s racing. For more information about the day and to book discounted advanced tickets, visit the course’s website on www.pontefract-races.co.uk