Pontefract and its surrounding area

Pontefract is a town in West Yorkshire. It is a thriving market town and has been since the middle ages and is rich in history from many eras. Some claim the town was the location of Robin Hoods death and much folklore and song place some of his outlaw activities close by the town. Earlier, Pontefract castle was the site of the murder of King Richard II. The castle itself was attacked three times by Cromwell’s armies during the English Civil War.

Today, as well as it’s market roots, the town is famous for liquorice and in particular for Pontefract (Pomfret) cakes. Many of the building in town date back to 18th century. There are a number of places worth going to see and do:

Pontefract Castle – https://www.pontefractcastle.co.uk/

Farmer Copleys – https://www.farmercopleys.co.uk/

Kinsley Greyhound Stadium – http://www.kinsleydogs.co.uk/

The Haribo Factory Outlet – https://www.haribo.com/enGB/shops/factory-shop.html

Yorkshire generally has a lot to offer any visitor in terms of business, culture, sport, shopping and beautiful countryside. I shall touch on a couple of bits and pieces in my blogs of the next couple of weeks when I am visiting a few more racecourses though I won’t pretend to be a definitive tourist guide!

The Racecourse

Pontefract racecourse hosts only flat racing.

Pontefract is a left handed oval undulating track of two miles around with fairly tight bends. The last six furlongs are a stiff uphill, the last three furlongs being quite steep. The run in is only just over two furlongs. This is probably the most testing finish at any track and all races here are about stamina.

There is no particular disadvantage in the draw though in large fields on soft ground, being drawn high may have some disadvantage.

Pontefract’s racing calendar includes four listed races.

Clerk of the course: Norman Gundill MBE

Course telephone number: 01977 781307

Getting Here

Pontefract is just under 190 miles from Central London, 110 miles from Birmingham, 17 miles from Leeds and 55 miles from Manchester.

The course itself is about a mile north of  the town on the A639

The course post code is WF8 4QD

Course parking is free.

The nearest railway station is Pontefract Tanshelf which is close to the entrance. There are also two other stations in Pontefract at Monkhill and Baghill

Racecourse facilities

Course website: https://www.pontefract-races.co.uk/

Disabled access: https://www.pontefract-races.co.uk/index.php/2018-race-season/facilities

There are a four enclosures at Pontefract Racecourse. They are the Premier Enclosure, Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure, Silver Enclosure and Picnic Enclosure. All are of differing entry prices of course and meet different needs and budgets. At Sunday meetings, of which there are a few, the course operates a creche facility in the Picnic Enclosure.

The stands aren’t huge but seemed to accommodate everyone who wants to use them. The course are quite strict about where people can and can’t drink and smoke too.

I thought the food and drink facilities were as good as anywhere if I’m honest, there’s plenty of stuff available for all tastes and budgets and  a few fast food outlets too.

My Day Today

This is my first ever visit to Pontefract Racecourse. There was lots of people as it was Ladies Day. There was a fabulous atmosphere, everyone really well behaved and enjoying themselves. As usual, the crowd got too much for me and I left early, though in any event I had a long drive home. I would definitely come here again though on a quieter day.

I didn’t try much food other than a few (nice) chips from the burger van. I was quite taken by the little coffee wagon (pictured above) and they said they do other courses too so keep an eye out around the Yorkshire tracks, the coffee is nice.

I spent a lot of time trying to find reasons why Sir Mark Prescott’s ‘Final Rock’ wouldn’t win the first. He’s been on a tremendous run of form having won his last three. By the time I stopped deliberating and decided to back him, the race had gone off. Just as well I didn’t as he was just outstayed in the final half furlong. Maybe just a little too high in the handicap now but possible just didn’t like such a stiff uphill finish.

I made no such error with Ventura Ocean in the next race. He had run a bit green on his debut at York but still ran well and only narrowly beaten by a previous winner who has kept half decent company since without winning. He was beaten again on the all weather at Newcastle but better judges than me say he just didn’t like the surface. Whatever the case, he won comfortably enough today and was eased at the finish. His cause was helped when his main market rival (and backed) raced wide for most of the race and finished a modest third.

I looked at race three the night before and couldn’t really get motivated by it at all.

In the fourth race, I fully intended to have a bet on ‘Reverend Jacobs’ particularly given how comfortably he had won at HQ last time and he was also James Doyle’s only ride on the cards. However the prices being traded of around 4/6 was far too short for his chance and I left it. Just as well, he just never got into the race. I’d be interested to hear from connections why they feel he ran so badly.

So that was that and I drove (4 hours!!!) home.

I’m thinking of going to Haydock tomorrow but might keep my powder dry for next week when I come back to Yorkshire and do Ripon, Thirsk and Beverley all on consecutive days.

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