Racegoers were treated to an afternoon of cracking racing at Pontefract on Monday (writes Richard Hammill).
There were some exhilarating finishes at the second fixture of the season.
The £20,000 feature race, the RIU Palace Meloneras Handicap, gathered a strong looking field which included two year old group two winner Supplicant for the all-conquering Richard Fahey team.
He was a well-supported 3-1 favourite but had no answer to the highly impressive Out Do (14-1) from the David O’Meara yard.
Winner of the Great St Wilfred Handicap at Ripon last season, Out Do has looked out of the top drawer on occasions, and the horse’s visually impressive win on Monday was backed up by the outstanding time on the day. If he can find consistency, he looks destined for more glory this season.
The race sponsors, RIU Hotels and Resorts, will be back at Pontefract later in the season when they sponsor the best dressed lady competition on Ladies Day (August 5). They have generously donated an all inclusive week long holiday for two to one of their five star resorts in Mexico.
The two maiden races on the card went the way of Richard Fahey. The double for the 2014 leading trainer on the track puts him into an early lead for this year.
The opening race - the Racing UK Profits Returned to Racing Maiden - was the first two year old race on the track this season and was won by Fahey’s Black Magic (3-1).
The horse became the first runner and winner for his sire Poet’s Voice – a group one winner for Godolphin, last seen running behind the mighty Frankel.
Fahey’s second winner on the card was Beardwood (10-11 favourite).
Owned by David and Emma Armstrong, the colt had shown promise when second on his debut in a strong looking race at Doncaster. He stepped up on that to just get the better of Tom Dascombe’s Dawn’s Early Light in a pulsating finish.
It was a second winner on the card for jockey Tony Hamilton - his 30th winner of the season, with a very healthy 24 per cent strike rate.
The longest race on the card, the Pontefract Marathon over two miles, five and half furlongs is the longest flat handicap run in the country.
It also forms the second leg of the Pontefract Stayers Championship - the first leg of which went to Surprise Vendor a fortnight ago.
He was bidding to make it three wins out of three at the West Yorkshire venue but patently failed to see out the extended trip and faded late on.
Stamina was not an issue for winner Point The Toes though. The only runner on the card for Irish trainer Mark Fahey, the 10 year old mare (10-1) relished conditions and sauntered clear under a fine ride from Jamie Spencer.
The trainer indicated that it was likely that the horse would return later in the season to try for more glory in the Championship and looks one to follow if she makes the trip across the Irish Sea again.
DEM Window Solutions in Barnsley sponsored the second race on the card. The biggest field of the day looked a competitive event with the betting headed by an unbeaten colt from the Luca Cumani yard in Wistar (3-1).
He ran a race full of promise but faded late on to be fourth to trainer Garry Moss’ Arrowzone (16-1).
A three time winner last season, he bounced back to form with an authoritative victory under David Allan.
The best finish of the day was saved until the last race when three horses crossed the line in unison. Separated by just a nose and another nose - the shortest possible margin of victory - it was Michael Dods’ Sleeping Apache (100-30)who flew down the outside to collar Where The Boys Are and Pabusar in the dying strides. Unexposed over five furlongs, he ran on strongly to be one of the few ‘hold up’ horses on the day to win.
The final April race meeting at Pontefract takes place next Wednesday (April 29) with the 26th Northern Racing College Charity Day. Tickets are still available for this event via the Racecourse website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk or by calling the office on 01977 781307. The first evening meeting of the season takes place on Friday, May 22, with 80s Night!