Highest-ever prize money of £1.13m at Pontefract races this season

There will be five listed races at Pontefract in 2017, offering a combined total of �220,000 in prize money. Picture: Alan Wright.
There will be five listed races at Pontefract in 2017, offering a combined total of �220,000 in prize money. Picture: Alan Wright.

Pontefract’s new 16-day race season starts on Tuesday, April 11.

With total prize money of £1.13 million on offer this year - the highest ever at the track - it promises to be another season of top class racing.

There will be five listed races offering a combined total of £220,000 in prize money.

Managing director Norman Gundill outlined exciting plans for the year ahead at the track’s annual press luncheon.

Following the success of The Art Of Racing raceday last year, the event won the “All About the Horse” category at the annual RCA showcase awards in November while the Rugby League Evening was one of four shortlisted in the ‘Events’ category. Both will be back in 2017.

Pontefract will also have two Friday evening music night meetings. The 80’s Night on Friday, May 26, will feature Bananarama while Cheryl, Mike and Jay, formerly of Bucks Fizz, will be back to perform after racing on Red Shirt Night on Friday, July 21, which will also include a beer festival.

Ladies Day is on Wednesday, August 9. The first prize for the best dressed lady this year will be a week’s holiday for two courtesy of Riu Resorts and Hotels in Sri Lanka. Second prize will be a weekend at the new Riu hotel in Dublin.

There will be three family Sunday meetings in 2017, each with over £100,000 worth of prize money. The Flat Cap and Whippet Family Day is on June 25, the Go Racing in Yorkshire Festival Family Day is on July 30 and the inaugural Sunday Service Family Day is on August 20.

The EBF Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes on this day will be the richest race to be run at Pontefract in 2017 with prize money of £55,000.

The race fulfils the BHA’s aim of improving black type races for fillies and mares and the racecourse are hoping to one day run it as a group three race.

Last season’s highlights included Loving Things winning the totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes in June off a rating of 95. She ended her season rated 108 following a close third in the group three Lancashire Oaks at Haydock and a group three win at Saint-Cloud.

Admission prices to the premier and grandstand and paddock enclosures have both increased by £1 but the price of the silver and picnic enclosures has been fixed for another year.

However, many racegoers have already taken advantage of the 50 per cent off early bird booking discount which ran throughout December until January 16, with 25 per cent discounts running from then until the end of February.

With the cost of a joint annual badge working out at just over £8 per person per day for the whole season, the excellent loyalty card scheme and the free postcode lottery promotion all in operation this season, there are plenty of bargains to be had.

Racegoers will also be able to win some great prizes in the Wall of Fame promotion.

Anyone who visited the track in 2016 could appear on the new mosaic artwork which graces the grandstand and paddock bar.

Trainer Brian Ellison will host Pontefract’s annual badge holders visit this year.

A group of 50 will be taken to the yard before returning for the meeting on July 11.

Racecourse changes at Pontefract include the parade ring being rebuilt over the winter.

The new, modern paddock has been built in the same footstep as the old one but the slope has been reduced and new fencing and urfacing have been installed.

At a cost of just under £500,000, the new parade ring also incorporates more extensive terracing, better viewing for racegoers and much improved facilities for horses and stable staff. The course have also continued the programme of refurbishing their existing facilities. This winter they have started work on the first phase of the Dalby Stand with the refurbishment of the main entrance, foyer and staircase.

Full details of all the Pontefract race meetings to be held this year can be found on their website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk.