Big crowd treated to some thrilling races in finale of 2021 Pontefract season

The finale of the 2021 racing season took place at Pontefract on a damp autumnal afternoon.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 9:00 am
Mr Professor gamely holds on to win the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Silver Tankard Stakes at Pontefract from the odds-on favourite Westover. Picture: Alan Wright

A huge Monday crowd of around 4,000 people came to celebrate the end of the season at the West Yorkshire track and were treated to some excellent racing and nailbiting finishes.

Feature race on the card was the 29th running of the Listed EBF Silver Tankard Stakes. As usual, there was a decent field assembled with a strong contingent from Newmarket.

Trainer Ralph Beckett has an excellent record in the race and his Westover, a son of Frankel, was backed as if defeat was out of the question and sent off at odds-on under Ryan Moore.

Yukon Mission, ridden by Jason Hart, gets up to win in a close finish at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright

The favourite had every chance, but was just outbattled by Mr Professor for rookie trainer Alice Haynes and jockey Silvestre De Sousa.

The winner has been on the go since April but has continued to progress throughout the season and was last seen in action behind Charlie Appleby’s potential superstar, Coroebus.

According to his trainer, Mr Professor is still growing and developing and will continue to improve. He’s registered in the forthcoming sales but could make up into an interesting middle distance horse in 2022. Westover lost nothing in defeat and was beaten just a head. He’s still very raw and unexperienced and will improve for a step up in distance.

The supporting race on the card was the Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes and the race went to Archie Watson, Hollie Doyle and Stag Horn for the second year in a row. A scintillating winner in 2020, the son of Golden Horn relished the soft conditions and simply ground his rivals into submission once again.

Beaten by Stradivarius first time out this season, Stag Horn remains a stayer with immense potential. The Pontefract Stayers Champion for 2021, Flint Hill, ran an admirable race back in fourth, but was unable to keep tabs on the classy winner.

There was a fantastic treble on the card for jockey Jason Hart. The first two of those winners came courtesy of trainer Hughie Morrison when Reelemin and Thunderclap took their respective races.

The former won the 1m nursery by 1½ lengths from Greatness Awaits. Reelemin has been beaten 4 times on an All Weather surface but maintained his 100% record on turf with a brave success in rain softened conditions. Thunderclap had been an eyecatching, fast finishing third on his last visit to Pontefract earlier in the month and, stepped up in distance, he was an impressive winner by an easy five lengths.

The treble came on board John Quinn’s Yukon Mission, who bravely held off the well supported favourite, True Blue Moon, in Division II of the 6f Steve Lumb handicap.

Division One of the Steve Lumb handicap saw one of the best backed horses on the day when Stallone was backed into 2-1 favouritism for the Michael Dods team. It looked as though the money had been well placed as he ranged up to join the leader in the final furlong. However, the Richard Fahey/ Paul Hanagan team had other ideas and their Patsy Fagan refused to surrender his advantage, holding on bravely by a head.

Despite the reverse of Stallone, there was still a birthday winner for trainer Michael Dods when his 2yo filly, Greenbarn, was an impressive winner of the opening Northern Commercials Novice.

The daughter of Mayson enjoyed the softer conditions and was a comfortable winner ahead of Tim Easterby’s Manila Scouse who had already shown a decent level of form. It was just Greenbarn’s second run having been well backed and finished third on her debut at Beverley. Owner by Emma and David Armstrong, she could develop into a decent three-year-old next season.

The final race of the 2021 season went to Black Friday for the R Mike Smith racing team and jockey Andrew Breslin.

The six-year-old won a Class 3 handicap earlier in the season and had even been tried at Listed level. Despite carrying top weight, he powered through the ground to beat Richard Fahey’s Show Me Show Me and, now he has his favoured soft conditions, could easily go in again before the end of the season.

The day closed with a team of 33 national hunt horses stretching their legs on the Pontefract turf ahead of the jumping season. With some of the Northern stars of the scene, including Top Ville Ben and Bushypark, racegoers were treated to an early sight of some of the horses hoping to make their make at the winter game.

The 2022 season starts up on Tuesday, April 5. Keep up to date with all the latest news and information from the Racecourse on their social media channels and on their website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk