Rugby League Evening is fast becoming an established fixture in the Pontefract racing calendar (writes Richard Hammill).
On Monday, two of the area’s most popular sports combined with racegoers and RL fans alike gathering to see some superb racing on the track as well as catching the players and coaches from Castleford Tigers, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity.
Season ticket holders with those clubs enjoyed discounted entry to the course while the players posed for numerous photos as well as conducting interviews with Radio Yorkshire, who broadcasted their Rugby League show live from the track.
The popular multiple Pontefract winner Mr Wolf also paraded before racing. Now a 16 year old, the front running course favourite ran at Pontefract on 36 occasions during his career, winning eight times.
The feature race on the card was named in Mr Wolf’s honour and saw a hugely impressive performance from Tim Easterby’s Golden Apollo.
Dropping to six furlongs for the first time since his two year old career, the Pivotal gelding quickened up impressively to rout a highly competitive field by a scintillating five lengths.
Easterby reports that his charge will hopefully make a quick turn around by running in a £100,000 race at York on Saturday and, judged on this performance, he would certainly not look out of place.
There was a double on the card for jockey Richard Kingscote. His first win came in the opening Huddersfield Giants Maiden for two year old fillies on board favourite Miss DD, trained by Tom Dascombe.
Having just her second start, she travelled powerfully on the lead and looked set for a comfortable success before drifting right across the track in the closing stages. The fact that she still won by one and a half lengths speaks volumes for her ability and Tom Dascombe reports that he will now step her up in grade for the listed Empress Stakes at Newmarket on July 1.
Kingscote’s second winner came for trainer Hughie Morrison when Special Relation took the Wakefield Trinity Handicap over one and a half miles.
Having been campaigned over no more than one mile in his four races to date, the horse was stepping up considerably in trip for his handicap debut and saw it out strongly, powering clear once sent to the front in the home straight.
The races that form the Pontefract Stayers Championship often see many old favourites in action and round three of the 2017 series - The Tony Bethell Memorial Handicap - was no different with five former course winners among the line-up.
However, it was Pontefract debutant Frederic who took the honours. Winning for the second time on just his second start for trainer Keith Dalgleish, the top weight breezed in to the race with jockey Graham Lee motionless and he simply had to nudge him to the lead in the closing stages to win easily.
With the first four favourites winning, the bookmakers looked for a big price winner in the Castleford Tigers Handicap as 15 sprinters went to the start. However it was 5-1 favourite, Round The Island, who took the honours from his unpromising draw in stall 12.
The final race on the card also went the way of a trainer in brilliant form with a horse drawn in stall 12. Ruth Carr’s Oriental Splendour was beaten just a neck when second in the corresponding race last year but made no mistake this time, coming with a clear run down the middle of the track to win by three and a half lengths.
Ponntefract’s next race meeting is the first family day of the season on Sunday, June 25 - Flat Cap and Whippet Day.