The Pontefract faithful came out in force on Friday night as the town’s racecourse took a step back in to the 1980s (writes Richard Hammill).
A bumper crowd of 8,000 people were greeted to sounds of the 80s and were treated to a memorable evening of racing and a real party atmosphere.
With some incredible fancy dress from walking Rubics Cubes to Top Gun to Hi-De-Hi, it really was a colourful night to remember.
Dixie, breakfast show DJ from Heart FM, hosted an 80s disco after racing and the radio station also supported the opening one mile handicap race.
The race produced the first of many pulsating finishes on the card for the first of many well punted favourites, as Keith Dalgleish’s Beautiful Stranger (7/4 favourite) made the long trip from near Glasgow worthwhile as he was produced with a perfectly timed run by Philip Makin to deny the front running Harwoods Volante by a neck.
The feature race on the card was the EBF Stallions Youngsters Conditions Stakes.
This race historically throws up some precocious two year olds with pretensions of Royal Ascot success and this year was no different as Kevin Ryan’s Taking Libertys (7/2) maintained his unbeaten record by coming from last to first to collar Godolphin’s Carrington.
Costing just £18,000 from the Doncaster Sales, the Makfi colt looks a shrewd buy for his owners Hambleton Racing who were out in force to cheer him home.
With some speedy juveniles in his wake, including Mark Johnston’s Brocklesby winner Ravenhoe, six furlongs already looked a bare minimum for the two year old who will surely continue to pay his way and looks to have a bright future.
Narrowly denied in the feature race, owners Godolphin made amends in no uncertain terms when they picked up a double later in the card.
Making her first appearance on turf, Charlie Appleby’s Bittern (11/8 favourite) ran out a ready winner of the Alamo Business Systems Fillies’ Handicap.
Appreciating the step up to one mile, two furlongs, William Buick’s mount was handily placed before staying on well to hold off Next Step.
She looks as though she’ll stay further still and, now she’s found the winning groove, could be a filly to keep on the right side of.
William Buick and Godolphin doubled up when three year old Shamardal filly My Call (13/8 favourite) made an impressive debut when winning out a seven length winner of the David Simons 40th Birthday Over The Hill Maiden.
Posting a decent time, the well backed favourite was not hard pressed to draw clear of Roger Varian’s consistent Marasim and she clearly has bundles of talent.
On an evening where favourite backers were on good terms with themselves, another well backed favourite Yeeoow (3/1) ran out a brave winner of the £10,000 Constant Security Services Handicap over six furlongs.
Just behind subsequent York winner Out Do in a course and distance handicap earlier in the season, the Wokingham is the ultimate aim for Karl Burkes consistent six year old who was cheered on by his legion of owners - staunch Pontefract supporters Ontoawinner.
There aren’t many meetings at Pontefract when leading Yorkshire trainer, Richard Fahey, fails to get his name on the scoresheet, and Friday evening was no different.
Under an excellent ride by George Chaloner, Modernism (9/4 favourite) squeezed through a gap late on to power home to the delight of the Pontefract crowd who backed the horse as if defeat was out of the question.
Disappointing on his yard debut at Chester, Modernism made no mistake this time round and looks well handicapped at the moment.
The next race meeting at Pontefract is the West Yorkshire Festival Night on Monday evening, June 8.
There will be a number of stalls promoting local businesses and events. Anyone interested in having a stall, can contact the racecourse on 01977 781307.