Pontefract’s third and final Family Day of the season took place with eight fantastic races and an action-packed day for families and racegoers to enjoy.
Seven zones were located around the enclosures, giving racegoers the perfect opportunity to learn a little more about the industry. Junior racegoers were also given the chance to have a go at some raceday roles as the course hosted a Kids Takeover (KTO), in association with Great British Racing.
After a couple of days of rain leading up to the weekend, Sunday was bright and sunny providing the perfect day to head to Ponte for a day of entertainment and racing.
The day started with the Jockey Zone, where ex-jockey George Chaloner walked the final six furlongs with a group of 20 eager racegoers to talk about how to ride the Ponte course.
Punters were given a helping hand with their tips at the Tipster Zone with an expert panel and could make their selections at the Quiet Zone in the Betting Hall with a free tea or coffee.
Other zones included the Industry Zone, where racegoers were treated to a tour of the weighing room with the raceday presenter, swiftly followed by the Horse Zone, where New Beginnings paraded three ex-racers, including Cheltenham Festival winner Mac (Mister McGoldrick). As part of the Kids Takeover, children and families had a unique experience of meeting these horses in the parade ring.
The Kids Takeover featured several activities for children to enjoy, including a trip to the get the best view of the course up in the commentators’ box.
Further KTO activities throughout the afternoon included an interview with top jockey Paul Mulrennan, a bus trip to the start of the first race, pony rides and horse handling demonstration.
The youngsters could even turn their hand to being a jockey by taking their turn on the mechanical horse.
The Picnic Enclosure was once again filled with children’s rides, face painting, a circus show and lots more.
On the track, the feature race of the day was the EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes, one of the highlights of the Ponte season.
Perfection finished second at Glorious Goodwood earlier in the month, but went one better to land the £60,000 prize for champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa, David O’Meara and owners Cheveley Park Stud.
The four-year-old tracked the leader before pulling clear on the rail to deny Shades Of Blue.
Brazilian De Sousa went on to claim a double on the day just two races later as Storting powered home to win the Follow @WillHillRacing On Twitter Novice Stakes by 3¾ lengths for trainer Mick Channon.
The first race on the card was won by short priced favourite Queen’s Order, who made all to win by two lengths on just her second start.
The two-year-old finished a close second on debut at Ponte last month, but went one better in the hands of Danny Tudhope to win for Kevin Ryan and Clipper Logistics.
Favourite backers among the crowd were again cheering after the second race as Hereby rallied gamely to win the Paul Cragg 50th Birthday Handicap Stakes for Harry Bentley and Ralph Beckett.
Local business Moor Top Farm Shop sponsored the third race on the card over 2m1f and it saw a close finish. Stormin Norman led the market having won his last two races, but could not complete his hat-trick, instead having to settle for third. Cam Hardie and Forewarning were in touch in rear before making headway a furlong out to join leader Champarisi. After a close fought tussle, it was Forewarning who crossed the line first to win by ½ length for trainer Julia Brooke and owners Ladsdoracing & Partners.
It was smiles all round for Joe Fanning and Mark Johnston as Smile A Mile returned to the winners enclosure after dominating the William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Handicap Stakes. The 9/1 shot made all to record his fourth career victory, finishing 2½ lengths in front of well-fancied Dalaalaat.
The Nova Display Handicap Stakes was split into two divisions, the first of which was won by Inexes for Jason Hart and Ivan Furtado. The seven-year-old finished a close second behind Penny Pot Lane here in June, but got the better of his rival this time out to record a second successive win after finishing first at Leicester in July.
The Nova Display Handicap Stakes (Div II) closed proceedings at Ponte and was won by Springwood Drive in the hands of David Allan, giving Tim Easterby a winner. After a convincing win at Haydock nine days previous, Springwood Drive impressed again to take the spoils in the lucky last to win by 1¼ lengths for owners Mr and Mrs Armstrong, sponsors of the feature race (Highfield Farm).
A successful day at Ponte brought the end of this year’s Family Days but there are still four more fixtures to enjoy this year. As the summer draws to an end and autumn sets in, it is all about the racing.
The next meeting is on Thursday, September 19, the first of two Thursday meetings that month. For more details about upcoming events visit the course’s website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk