Thrilling racing at Pontefract

Rioca gets ahead to win a one mile nursery at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright
Rioca gets ahead to win a one mile nursery at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright

On a showery September day, the Pontefract faithful were treated to a fantastic afternoon of excellent racing and thrilling finishes.

The black and white silks of Anthony Oppenheimer have been carrying all before them this season thanks to the efforts of Derby winner Golden Horn and the famous colours were once again out in front as the owner’s This Is The Day won the feature Simon Scrope Dalby Screw Driver Handicap.

The four-year-old filly was not beaten far behind Irish Oaks heroine Covert Love earlier in the season and she appreciated the drop in class when proving too strong for Silvery Moon and Fattsota.

Another horse appreciating a drop in class was Yorkee Mo Sabee who took the opening race – the first division of the EBF Strawberry Hill Maiden.

Down the field in the Convivial Maiden at York, the Mark Johnston colt made every yard of the running under champion jockey elect Silvestre De Sousa.

The Teofilo colt was backed off the boards just before the off and this Derby entry could go on to bigger and better things.

The second division looked equally strong and was run in an almost identical time. Simon Crisford’s Happy Call had been well backed when taking on William Haggas’ Group 2 Gimcrack winner Ajaya on his debut, but finished runner-up for the third time when failing to reel in another Haggas runner in Easy Code. The Newmarket handler has his string in fine form at the moment and Fergal Lynch kicked clear coming in to the straight and was always holding the runner-up.

The one mile nursery is often won by a horse that holds their own at a higher level and this year’s renewal looked no exception. Like so many from the yard, Sir Mark Prescott’s Rioca has really benefitted from a step up in trip and gamely held off Newmarket raiders Mise en Rose and ‘Peru’ to win her second race on the bounce.

If she comes out of the race well, the filly may come back to the West Yorkshire course at the end of the season for a crack at the Listed Silver Tankard Stakes.

There was an absolutely thrilling finish to the £10,000 six furlong sprint.

A cracking renewal featured the 2014 winner, Sunraider, along with this season’s impressive Ponte winners Spiraea and Jan Van Hoof from the all conquering Richard Fahey yard. Supporters of the Fahey four-year-old were on their way to collect their winnings as the Dutch Art gelding put his head in front yards from the line, only to be denied in the very last stride by outsider Johnny Cavagin.

The six-year-old had won over course and distance in 2012 when trained by Richard Guest. Now in the care of Ronald Thompson, he was coming back to somewhere near his peak and was given a perfect ride by Jimmy Quinn.

The EBF Frier Wood Maiden has been known to throw up some very decent winners and Godolphin’s Tautology was backed as if defeat was out of the question. He travelled supremely well but was quickly beaten off by Karl Burke’s Percy Street who stayed on resolutely in the home straight.

Soul Brother has been out of form for some time but boasted some very smart two-year-old form and Tim Easterby’s charge was a tidy winner of the Racing UK Handicap over five furlongs. The top weight was drawn in Stall 14 but was given an excellent ride by David Allan to hit the front in the last 100 yards.

The final race on the card was a Handicap for Apprentice jockeys – the stars of the future. Hollie Doyle did not panic when Swift Cedar booted five lengths clear in to the home straight and she had a very willing partner as Card High reeled in the leader with 100 yards to go. Apprenticed to Richard Hannon, Hollie looked like the ultimate professional and will hopefully get plenty more opportunities.