Mr Orange earns cheers with seventh Pontefract win on raceday scorcher
Under glorious, cloudless September skies, racegoers enjoyed a final taste of summer with some sweltering sunshine and nail biting finishes as Pontefract hosted one of their last four racedays of 2021.
Feature race on the card was the £30,000 British EBF Fillies Handicap and there was a strong line up of fillies assembled. It was a case of ‘third time lucky’ for Gale Force Maya as Michael Dods’ charge had finished runner-up in the same race for the last couple of years.
The winner was never too far away from the pace and she and her jockey, Graham Lee, bravely fended off all challengers after hitting the front.
Dods was thrilled for the mare and commented: ‘She’s very game and did it well – she really deserved it.”
The winner will try her hand at Listed level in due course but will head to Newmarket on the 23rd for a £45,000 handicap.
There was a double on the card for jockey Lee as he steered Flint Hill to success in round six of the Stayers Championship – the Madam Lilibet Handicap.
The race remembered one of the most quirky characters to have graced the Pontefract turf – Madam Lilibet was just as likely to pull herself up in a race as she was to win it!
Flint Hill is much more straight forward and registered his second win at the track in 2021 when proving much too strong for his rivals.
It was trainer Ruth Jefferson’s second flat winner – both have been at Pontefract and both with Flint Hill!
The winner is now building up a healthy advantage in the Stayers Championship with just two rounds to go.
There was an intriguing line-up to the Nadeen Dawson Memorial Maiden as a field of eight inexperienced three-year-olds faced the starter.
With a host of promising challengers from Newmarket, it was a competitive betting heat but it was a local challenger, Enfranchise, who took the honours for trainer Mark Johnston.
There was plenty to like about the manner in which she saw off her opponents and with Johnston on course to watch her, she could be one to keep an eye on.
The opening race – the Northern Commercials Maiden – saw a well backed favourite in the shape of Clarets Glory who won on the track earlier in the month.
Burdened with a 4lb penalty, she again ran a superb race, but just failed to reel in speedy newcomer Esken Rose for the Kevin Ryan team.
Esken Rose is the first winner for her sire Hootenanny, who took Royal Ascot by storm in 2014 when blitzing his rivals for Wesley Ward.
Jockey Dylan Hogan is having a great season and scored his 25th winner of the year, matching his best ever total, when Ace Rothstein was an impressive winner of the Napoleons Casino Bradford Handicap.
The horse could be called the winner some way out as he breezed upside the pace setters before scooting clear for the Michael Bell yard. The winner appreciated the return to turf and, if the ground stays on the quick side, looks like he could still be ahead of the handicapper.
Perfect Swiss has now had three runs at Pontefract and was scoring for the second time when taking the Matty Bown Handicap. Six runners went to the start but a large horse blanket would have covered the whole field as they crossed the line. It was win number seven of the season at Pontefract for Tim Easterby, taking him to the top of the 2021 leading trainer table.
The biggest cheer of the day came in the last race when local legend, Mr Orange, scored his seventh win at Pontefract.
The eight-year-old had not been in the best of form this year, but his handicap mark had slipped as a result and he bounced back to form with a battling win in the Apprentice Handicap for jockey Oisin McSweeney.
He was made to battle hard by favourite, Singe Anglais, who was slowly away and lost a number of lengths at the start, but once he had his head in front, he was not for passing.
He will bid for his eighth course win, which would equal the record of course victories by one horse, later on in the 2021 season.
The next meeting at Pontefract takes place today. Full details can be found at www.pontefract-races.co.uk