On another glorious September afternoon, Pontefract Racegoers were treated to fantastic racing with some superb performances across the card.
The Godolphin team have a good record in the feature Dalby Screw Driver Handicap – their ‘Ennistown’ took the £20,000 Class 2 Handicap in both 2013 and 2014 and their 2016 representative, Memorial Day, threw off an absence of 348 days to run out a hugely impressive winner on his return.
It was a strong race for the grade, and, against some unexposed and promising three- year-olds, you could not fail to be impressed with the way the Cape Cross gelding sprinted eight lengths clear in a decent time.
Reported to be fragile and difficult to train, Memorial Day looks likely to be able to make his mark in Pattern races if he stays sound.
Another wide margin winner came in the shape of Cartwright in the closing Apprentice Handicap for the Sir Mark Prescott team.
This was the third victory for the gelding this season who, like many from his yard, has improved for the step up in trip. Fewer victories will be easier as he cruised home 18 lengths to the good with a furlong between the winner and the last horse to cross the line!
In a strange race run at a frenetic pace, only Sir Mark Prescott’s charge could maintain the gallop and he scored in another quick time.
Father McKenzie has come up against some promising two-year-olds in his two previous visits to Pontefract, but finally got his day in the sun when running out a good winner of the opening EBF Stallions Maiden under Graham Lee.
Campaigned over a variety of trips, he appreciated the six furlongs this time as he cleared away from the well backed, promising newcomer Benjamin Thomas.
The Mick Channon / Graham Lee combination were in the Winners Enclosure again an hour later when Lincoln got up close home in the first division of the Racing UK handicap.
Just six days after his win at Ayr, Lincoln is clearly thriving at present and is likely to be turned out again quickly while in such a rich vein of form.
The second division of the Racing UK Handicap produced the best finish of the day as Captain Dion and Harwoods Volante had a ding dong battle over the final furlong with Kevin Ryan’s charge just getting the verdict by a short head.
Touched off at Newmarket last time, Captain Dion is still improving and may be able to follow up before the end of the season. The pair pulled three lengths clear of the unlucky in running Fendale, whose turn must surely be close.
There was drama before the EBF Fillies Nursery as the well fancied Party Nights, for the Luca Cumani team, decanted Jamie Spencer on the Pontefract turf and ran loose for 10 minutes. She was eventually caught safe and sound, but withdrawn after her exertions.
The race itself went the way of Richard Fahey’s Tomorrowcomes, who reversed the form with Kind of Beauty, who could not land a blow on this occasion. Historically, this is a strong two-year-old nursery that tends to throw up a few winners and there are a number of horses that should be watched in the future.
Champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa is fighting hard to retain his title this season and it looks like the battle with Jim Crowley is going to go right to the wire. De Sousa added one to his tally when Cirencester ran out an impressive winner of the one mile Maiden. The daughter of Sea The Stars had made her debut when finishing third in a hot race at Ascot and she made no mistake in going one better this time, quickening up well to draw clear of Ed Dunlop’s Oceanus.
Six of Van Gerwen’s 11 career runs have been at Pontefract and, yet to be out of the first four, he gained reward for his consistency when making every yard of the running in the five furlong sprint. Quickly away, and stretching his advantage round the home turn, he has the makings of a Ponte specialist and will be welcome to race on the track again for Pontefract sponsors Mr & Mrs Yates, of the Moor Top Farm Shop, in Hemsworth.