Pontefract’s first evening race meeting this year attracted around 9,000 people on Friday (writes Richard Hammill).
Racegoers enjoyed the early summer sunshine and danced into the night along with Cheryl, Mike and Jay, formerly of Bucks Fizz. As well as fun and nostalgia, there was also some fantastic racing.
Before Yalta’s debut at Goodwood, trainer Mark Johnston had spoken in glowing terms about his two year old. He duly won that race in style and was quoted in many lists for the group two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Yalta’s reputation was on the line in the feature EBF Youngsters Conditions Stakes but he didn’t let his supporters down in the slightest.
Sent straight to the front by William Buick, he comfortably stretched clear to win by an easy four and a half lengths.,
His victims included two previously unbeaten horses and a Fahey colt who had kept some illustrious company and the way Yalta destroyed them was impressive.
John Ferguson, representing the Godolphin team, had flown to Pontefract specially to watch the colt and was thrilled with the performance and confirmed the Royal Ascot target - he is now joint favourites on some bookmakers lists.
The win completed a double for Buick after he had taken the second race on the David Elsworth trained Touch the Sky.
The gelding is regally bred being by a Derby winner (Sea The Stars) out of an Oaks winner (Love Divine) and he clearly appreciated the step up in trip, routing his opposition.
A step up in grade is on the cards and he can continue to progress.
Peloponnese was another impressive, well backed winner in the Alamo Business Systems Fillies’ Handicap - this time for the Sir Michael Stoute team.
Improving all the time, the Montjeu filly bounded clear of her rivals and wasn’t unduly pressed to win by five lengths. Her sire can produce some offspring with a mind of their own and a first time visor clearly helped to focus her mind.
Stanghow took the Constant Security Services Handicap for sprinters. A useful three year old last year, he’s taken time to hit form so far in this campaign but cruised in to contention before having to dig really deep to just get the better of a sustained battle with Majestic Hero.
The pair pulled a little way clear in a decent time and both horses could be placed well in the coming weeks.
The opening race on the card – the Solutions 4 Cleaning Handicap – went the way of Auspicion. He’d looked a horse to follow last year having won his maiden for William Haggas. He failed to progress from that win and was subsequently switched to Tom Tate who looks to have brought him right back to his best if this win is anything to go by.
William Haggas himself got on the score sheet in the finale with Get Up and Dance. The winner had run a fantastic race on debut when runner up in a big field at Doncaster. She easily went one better this time in the Ron McNally Memorial Maiden and could definitely go on to better things. Punters looking for topically named winners were in seventh heaven with this one as racegoers did indeed Get Up and Dance straight after the race as the band sprung into action.