Progressive sprinter Mondammej impresses as Pontefract stages second race meeting of 2021
Pontefract Racecourse staged its second meeting of 2021 this week and saw a stark contrast to the first with the track basked in glorious sunshine as the long dry spell continues.
Feature race on the day was the £19,000 RIU Hotels Handicap. Won by some high class sprinters in the past, there was a fascinating field gathered including the high class trailblazer, Caspian Prince, and former winner of the race Mokaatil.
The stiff track (and possibly his advancing years) played against the strengths of the popular Caspian Prince and he was reeled in by the young, progressive sprinter, Mondammej, for the team of Antony Brittain and Cam Hardie.
Bought out of the Roger Varian stable for just £4,000 before ever setting foot on a racecourse, Mondammej has been very headstrong and difficult to train but has always shown a huge amount of talent.
Making his debut on turf, the son of Lope de Vega quickened nicely to win by a comfortable 2¼ lengths. At the right end of the handicap, Mondammej may be able to make his mark in some of the bigger handicaps later in the season.
The Pontefract Marathon Handicap is the second longest flat race run at any course in the country and is always a great spectacle with runners completing a full circuit and an extra five furlongs of the tough Ponte track.
Wemyss Point had won the race back in 2018 and was back to try again for owners The Green Oaks Partnership and trainer Phil Kirby. Following a fierce pace set by Warranty, Wemyss Point moved through to challenge in the home straight and readily drew clear to win by three lengths, providing the trainer with a birthday winner.
First race on the card saw two-year-olds in action at Pontefract for the first time in 2021.
Kevin Ryan has had a sensational start to the campaign with his youngsters and his Smullen was sent off odds on to make a winning debut. However, he failed to fire and the finish was fought out by Where’s Diana and Come Quick. The former just got the verdict by a short head for the Roger Fell/ Jason Hart combination, showing a great attitude in the process.
Having been headed 100 yards from the line, she put her head down and battled hard to deny the Karl Burke trained runner-up.
A pair of ‘Ventura’s’ took the fourth and fifth races, both ridden by Kevin Stott.
Ventura Rascal got the ball rolling for Kevin Ryan and Middleham Park Racing when defeating the well supported, free going Cote D’Azur who would surely have gone close if proving more tractable. The winner had been really progressive in 2020 and has clearly continued the progress over the winter.
Ventura Express took the Racing TV handicap over the fast 5f. Dapper Man was backed as if defeat was out of the question and set off at a lightning pace but he had no answers to Paul Midgley’s sprinter who breezed by to win by almost four lengths.
Perhaps the most impressive winner on the day was Scarlet Bear – the only runner on the card for William Jarvis.
Formerly trained by Tom Dascombe, Scarlet Bear had run well in Group 2 and Group 3 races as a two-year-old and appreciated the drop in class and broke her duck in impressive fashion by four-and-a-half lengths.
There were a couple of notable performances by newcomers in behind the winner with both Aunt Agatha (second) and Twilight Spinner (third) looking sure to win races soon.
The longest price winner on the day was in the final race on the card when Commonsensical struck for the Tom Dascombe / Ali Rawlinson team and a group of enthusiastic owners from Burnley Football Club!
Commonsensical was stepping up to the 1m trip for the first time but saw it out well, pulling further clear as the line approached.
There is just one remaining race meeting scheduled to be run at Pontefract this month (next Wednesday), which will be run behind closed doors but, should the Government’s roadmap easing restrictions continue on its current course, then Pontefract is hoping to welcome back a limited number of spectators for their three meetings on Friday evening, May 28, Monday evening June 7 and Sunday June 20.
Guidelines by the British Horseracing Authority and the DCMS mean that numbers will be severely restricted, and certain areas will be inaccessible to the public, but a small number of tickets are currently on sale via the course's website (pontefract-races.co.uk).