Pontefract Racecourse is situated in the market town of Pontefract in the county of West Yorkshire in Northern England. The first written records of horse racing on the current site, or thereabouts, date back to 1790 but, in 1802, members' badges costing £50 each and allowing entry to the racecourse for 20 years were issued; the money raised was used to build the first grandstand. Racing was suspended for the duration of World War I, but construction of a new grandstand commenced in 1919 and was completed in 1922. Pontefract Racecourse underwent significant alteration throughout the 20th century. In 1971, adjustments were made to the mile start to accommodate work on the M62 motorway, in 1980 a watering system was introduced and in 1983 the course was extended from its original horseshoe shape to a continuous oval, 2 miles 125 yards around. Today, Pontefract Racecourse stages 16 Flat fixtures a year between April and October.
For racegoers, general admission prices at Pontefract Racecourse are £21 for the Premier Enclosure, £14 for the Paddock Enclosure, £7 for the Silver Ring and £12 for the Picnic Enclosure for a vehicle with up to four occupants. Family tickets, which must be purchased in advance and are available only on Sundays, cost £20. Admission is free for accompanied children.
For corporate events, such as conferences, exhibitions, meetings and training days, Pontefract Racecourse offers a selection of flexible indoor spaces capable of accommodating 20 to 250 people, depending on how the space is configured. The largest space, the Premier Dining Suite, can accommodate up to 250 people in a boardroom or classroom configuration and up to 100 people in a reception configuration.
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What's unique about the course at Pontefract?
The Pontefract course consists of a left-handed, fairly sharp, but testing oval, a little over two miles around, with a short, two-furlong straight. There are significant undulations throughout, including a stiff climb from the three-furlong marker to the winning post.
The sharp turn into the straight, the short straight and the undulations means that Pontefract tends to favour handy, nippy types, although there is also an emphasis on stamina. There is no straight course, but Pontefract has the distinction of being the longest continuous horse racing circuit in the country.
Notable Races and Events
The most valuable races run at Pontefract are all Listed races. The most valuable of all is the Flying Fillies' Stakes' run over 6 furlongs in August and worth £21,266 to the winner. In 2012, the race was won by Roger Charlton's 3-year-old Mince, who went on to win her next two starts, including the Group 3 Bengough Stakes at Ascot.
Other notable races include the Pontefract Castle Stakes and the Pomfret Stakes, run over a mile in July; both races are worth £18,714 to the winner. In 2012, the former was won by Tom Dascombe's 4-year-old Brown Panther and the latter was won by Andrew Balding's 5-year-old Highland Knight, who went on to win the Group 2 Oettingen-Rennen at Baden-Baden later in the season.
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
The situation at the top of the jockeys' table for the last five seasons at Pontefract is tight; Paul Hanagan leads the way with 27 winners from 201 rides, but he's just one winner ahead of Silvestre De Sousa with 26 winners from 141 rides.
The pair are some way clear of their nearest rival, Frederik Tylicki, with 14 winners from 78 rides. The situation at the top of the trainers' table has Richard Fahey well ahead of his nearest pursuer with 31 winners from 188 runners. The Maktoum family does well at Pontefract, with Hamdan Al Maktoum the leading owner with 12 winners from 60 runners over the last five seasons.
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