Royal Ascot hero Ryan Moore enjoys more success at Pontefract
Family Days returned to Pontefract this week when the course hosted its first Sunday raceday since 2019.
With restrictions remaining in place, the crowd was limited in capacity, but there was a fantastic atmosphere as families took their places on the lawns and cheered on their winners.
Fresh from a treble on the final day of Royal Ascot, Ryan Moore steered Sir Michael Stoute’s Katara to victory in the feature event – the Sky Bet Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes.
A superb field assembled, including representatives from across the country and one Irish visitor. Katara had looked to be a star in the making when winning twice in 2020 but had lost her way a little in her two most recent starts. However, she was back to her best on Sunday with Moore riding a superb race, holding the filly up at the rear of the field before weaving his way through to lead on the line.
It was her second win at Listed level and the jockey felt that there was plenty more to come, mentioning that she could make her mark in Group company.
There was a large contingent of horses wanting to compete in the opening Northern Commercials EBF Novice Fillies Stakes and the race was subsequently divided to accommodate all runners. Remarkably, both divisions of the race went the way of trainer Karl Burke with Almohandesah taking division one and Favourite Child taking division two.
Tom Marquand and Clifford Lee did the steering with both winners having to battle hard to win by a head on each occasion.
Marquand and his fiancé, Hollie Doyle, have been making a name for themselves over the last 18 months and Hollie also got her name on the scoresheet when Contact was an impressive winner of the 1m4f handicap for David Barron. The three-year-old showed his older rivals a clean pair of heels in the last furlong and sprinted clear to win by five-and-a-half lengths.
There was drama on the way to the start of the 1m VW Van Centre West Yorkshire Fillies Handicap when likely favourite Iconic Queen unshipped her jockey and ran loose on the way to the start. Thankfully both horse and jockey were unscathed but she was withdrawn and did not take her place in the race.
She may have struggled to cope with the winner anyway as The Flying Ginger was a taking winner – making all the running and drawing clear close home.
The Flying Ginger had started her 2021 campaign against the Oaks runner up, Mystery Angel, but was back in calmer waters and could easily follow up.
Kings Prince is a name to put in your notebooks. Defending an unbeaten record, the Mark Johnston trained son of Kingman was a hugely impressive winner of the 1m4f Novice, scoring impressively by five-and-half lengths.
In behind him, the favourite Blow That Horn (representing Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore) and Fantasising (who had been beaten on debut by a subsequent Royal Ascot winner) could not get near him.
Charlie Johnston was on course representing his father and explained that the horse had always had a big reputation but had been too immature to fulfil the lofty expectations that they held. However, he was confident that the horse would start to make up for lost time and predicted a big future.
The stayers were in action in the Sky Bet Pontefract Cup and Keith Dalgleish’s Let Me Be registered his 7th career win on his first start at the course. Callum Rodriguez rode a brilliant race to score by a length with the winner pricking his ears as soon as he hit the front and looking very much like there was plenty more to come.
The final race on the card went to local trainer Tim Easterby when Music Society, former winner of the Ayr Bronze Cup, got his head back in front for jockey Cam Hardie.
The winner has been a fine servant for the Easterby yard and it was fantastic to see him storming through late on to put his head in front on the line.
With the easing of restrictions delayed to July 19, the next two race meetings at Pontefract will be held with a limited number of spectators.
Guidelines by the British Horseracing Authority and the DCMS mean that numbers will continue to be severely restricted and certain areas will be inaccessible to the public. Tickets for the race meetings next Monday and Tuesday, July 6 are already on sale at www.pontefract-races.co.uk
The racecourse has released a limited number of tickets for the remaining meetings in July and August with a second batch of tickets hopefully becoming available after the easing of restrictions.