A NEW-LOOK Pontefract Racecourse opens its doors for its first meeting of 2019 today where Bailarico will seek a six-timer in the Enjoy Racehorse Ownership Jamaican Flight Handicap.
Pontefract have extended and refurbished the owners’ and trainers’ facilities at the course with the aim of attracting more owners to Pontefract and improving the calibre of the racing.
The Racehorse Owners’ Association are sponsoring the entire card to promote the industry and the improvements that have been made over the winter.
There is £78,000 prize-money on offer over the course of today’s card with the highlight being the the £25,000 Sponsorship for ROA Members Handicap over one mile and two furlongs.
While the race meeting was lost to waterlogging last year, a classy field assembled for the 2017 renewal with subsequent Royal Ascot victor Snoano taking the honours for Malton trainer Tim Easterby.
Newmarket raider Hugo Palmer saddles the likely favourite in the shape of four-year-old gelding Dukhan, the mount of James Doyle.
The card’s £15,000 one mile four furlong EBF Maiden also has a rich roll of honour with Luca Cumani’s High–Rise winning it on his way to victory in the Epsom Derby in 1998 and now lending his name to this race.
Above Normal won the 2017 contest for Saeed Bin Suroor and Godolphin and has since been winning in Dubai over the Winter.
Just three runners are scheduled to line up for this year’s renewal with Middleham trainer Mark Johnston’s Rochester House looking to build on the promise of finishing second on his debut on the all-weather at Newcastle last week.
The Stayers Championship has also proved a popular addition to the racing programme in recent seasons with Becky The Thatcher crowned champion last year meaning that her trainer Micky Hammond, has won the championship for three of the last four years.
Hammond now has both Leodis and Strait Run engaged in today’s Enjoy Racehorse Ownership Jamaican Flight Handicap run over two miles two furlongs in which the dual-purpose Bailarico will look to make it six wins in a row on the flat for Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex.
The award winning ‘Wall of Fame’ promotion is also back at the course for 2019.
Racegoers who visited in 2018 may already have spotted their face on the website dedicated to the promotion, but the life-size artwork will be unveiled in the Paddock Bar at the opening race meeting of the year.
Anyone spotting themselves will be able to claim a prize from the office on any raceday during the season.
The ‘Ponte Faithful’ promotion is also back again offering vouchers and discounts for those who booked for race meetings in both 2018 and 2019.
Those with a Harrogate postcode can pick up a free ticket for this meeting if they register for the Racecourse Postcode Lottery scheme before the day – all postcodes throughout Yorkshire will be able to get tickets to specific meetings throughout the year.
Yorkshire course Redcar staged one of three meetings held in Britain yesterday with the well-backed Sameem taking the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Handicap for Newmarket trainer James Tate and jockey David Allan.
Fellow Newmarket trainer John Gosden also sent out 10-11 favourite Private Secretary to win the Become A Redcar Annual Badgeholder Novice Stakes.
Early Randox Health Grand National casualty Vintage Clouds could go for swift compensation in the Coral-sponsored Scottish version on Saturday.
A first-fence faller at Aintree last weekend, Sue Smith’s grey is among 34 still in contention for the big Ayr prize.
He is set to receive 11lb from Beware The Bear after finishing a length and a quarter behind the Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old when runner-up in last month’s Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Beware The Bear tops the Scottish National weights, with Big River another of those prominent in the market who may graduate from the Ultima, in which he finished a promising fourth.
Lucinda Russell’s nine-year-old will be bidding to keep Scotland’s biggest jumps prize at home.
Other possibles for a field that can number a maximum 30 include Alan King’s Dingo Dollar, Nigel Twiston-Davies’s young stayer Blue Flight and his narrow 2017 runner-up Cogry.