Magical Effect produces the magic on Pontefract's National Horseracing College Charity Day

The National Horseracing College Charity Day is when Pontefract traditionally looks to the future stars of racing, both human and equine - and it was staged for the 32nd time last week, albeit the first time without spectators (the meeting was not run in 2020).

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 8:00 am
Magical Effect bursts clear to win the feature race at Pontefract. Picture: Alan Wright

The race meeting is unique in the fact that the majority of the card sees races sponsored by different parts of the industry in order to encourage the grassroots and future of the sport.

The National Horseracing College, based just outside Doncaster, was set up in 1984 and provides a range of courses at all levels for people who are looking at the horse racing industry as a future career. It also offers those currently in the business the chance to develop their qualifications and skills.

The feature race on the card saw a fascinating clash between three Pontefract specialists. Round The Island, Mr Orange and Highly Sprung had each won at the West Yorkshire track on six occasions. However, Magical Effect had not read the script and Ruth Carr’s gelding, himself a Ponte winner, showed his rivals a clean pair of heels to win by an unchallenged three lengths.

Oliver Stammers steers King Frankel to victory. Picture: Alan Wright

The winner seemed to enjoy making the running in a smaller field and will be back to try for his third C&D win later in the season. Highly Sprung fared best of the rest in finishing a creditable second, running on late in the day.

Kevin Stott and Kevin Ryan have been in great form this season and they paired up to win the six furlong Tuffa Boots Handicap with Bergerac who had been a promising two-year-old and looks set for better things following his six-length romp.

The win was Kevin Stott’s fourth of the season at Pontefract in 2021 and he currently heads the track’s leading jockey standings.

Promising apprentice Oliver Stammers recorded a double on the day, courtesy of Majalaat and King Frankel.

Kevin Stott on board Bergerac, an impressive winner of the six furlong Tuffa Boots Handicap. Picture: Alan Wright

Both were superbly executed front running rides with the former stealing a clear advantage from an early stage and never looking likely to be caught for trainer Paul Collins. His second win came on board King Frankel for his boss, Mark Johnston. As his name suggests, the son of Frankel had faced a decent calibre of opposition in his career to date but was impressive in victory this time.

There was a first and last race double on the card for trainer David O’Meara.

His exciting two-year-old, May Blossom, showed the benefit of her debut run at Redcar and an excellent attitude in repelling previous winners Khunan and Where’s Diana, who finished second and third. As a daughter of Mayson, she’s likely to improve for softer ground too.

The trainer’s double came courtesy of Soul Seeker in the Go Racing in Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice. Sean Kirrane did the steering over the fast five furlongs to get the better of the short priced favourite, Ventura Express.

The one mile handicap on the card looked a tight knit affair with Rains of Castamere and Cote D’Azur difficult to separate in the betting.

It was Mick Channon’s filly, Rains of Castamere, who brought up her treble following wins at Newmarket and Windsor at the end of 2020. She did not take to hurdling over the winter but came to Ponte fit and well and comfortably saw off her rivals by five lengths.

The next meeting at Pontefract is on Friday evening, May 28 and the course is hoping to welcome back a limited number of spectators for this and their subsequent race meetings on Monday evening, June 7 and Sunday, June 20.

Guidelines by the British Horseracing Authority and the DCMS mean that numbers will be severely restricted for these three meetings, and certain areas will be inaccessible to the public, but limited tickets are still available and are currently on sale via the course's website (pontefract-races.co.uk).