Outsider of three Hurstwood pulls off upset in big race of the day at Pontefract

Thrilling finish with four horses in the running to win the Napoleons Casino Bradford Fillies Handicap. Picture: Alan Wright
Thrilling finish with four horses in the running to win the Napoleons Casino Bradford Fillies Handicap. Picture: Alan Wright

The inaugural ‘Art of Racing’ Raceday won an award at the prestigious Showcase Awards in 2016 for its unique innovation and part one of the 2019 version took place at Pontefract Racecourse on Monday.

A good crowd was in attendance in the sunshine for an afternoon of fantastic racing, which included a double on the day for owner-breeders Emma and David Armstrong.

Ben Curtis rides his sixth Pontefract winner of 2019 as he partners Rousayan to success in the John Quinn Racing Handicap. Picture: Alan Wright

Ben Curtis rides his sixth Pontefract winner of 2019 as he partners Rousayan to success in the John Quinn Racing Handicap. Picture: Alan Wright

As part of the Art of Racing days, racing fans are given the chance to showcase their racing knowledge by being guest tipsters for a race on the day. On Monday seven guest tipsters each wrote a race preview in the racecard and spoke about their race before horses entered the paddock.

Each race also had a guest judge for the Best Turned Out Horse, the winning groom receiving a cash prize.

Racegoers were also given the opportunity to turn their hand to commentary, with a booth for those wanting to commentate on one of our races, behind the scenes.

On the racing side the biggest prize of the day was won by Hurstwood, who stayed on well for owners Emma and David Armstrong with David Allan on board to win by a length. The outsider of three upset odds-on favourite, Monoski, who recently appeared in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trainer of Hurstwood, Tim Easterby, confirmed he would enter him into the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes at York in August after his impressive win.

Emma and David Armstrong completed a double on the card when Cale Lane swept around the outside in the hands of Graham Lee to win by a neck, to claim victory in the Napoleons Casino Bradford Fillies’ Handicap. The four-year old is in foal to Group One winner Mayson and has until August 7 to race.

There was no such luck for Tricky Dicky who was aiming for a third consecutive win at Pontefract as he was pipped on the line in the first race by Ruth Carr’s Magical Effect.

This was his first win since August 2017, as the seven-year-old stuck on gamely in the hands of PJ McDonald in a close finish in the Geoffrey Oldroyd – A Lifetime In Racing Handicap.

Current leading trainer this year at Pontefract Mark Johnston added to his tally of wins with evens favourite Mister Chiang, under a good ride from Franny Norton.

Top-weight Mister Chiang, with first time blinkers on, finally found his way through the field to pass long-time leader Fayetta to take the spoils in yet another tight finish on the line.

It is hard to keep jockeys Danny Tudhope and Ben Curtis away from the winners’ enclosure at Pontefract and both were among the winners again.

David O’Meara’s Beryl The Petal ended a string of placed efforts with an impressive victory in the hands of Tudhope. Curtis then took his tally of winners at Pontefract this season to six, to extend his lead as top jockey at the course in 2019, as Rousayan eased to victory in the John Quinn Racing Handicap, following up on his victory just five days earlier in the Carlisle Bell.

The final race of the afternoon, The Guide Dogs For The Blind Supporting Pontefract Handicap (for lady amateur riders) was won by Edgar Allan Poe, as Serena Brotherton judged a perfectly timed run to win by a length-and-a-half, capping off a fantastic afternoon of racing.