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Blog – 31st May

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard, who is writing today’s blog.

​The first evening fixture of the 2024 Pontefract Racecourse calendar took place last Friday night with a fantastic music night celebrating all things Abba.

A stellar crowd was out in force to see some exciting racing and then dance the night away with the superb Björn Again performing on stage.

Once the horses had safely left the course after the last race, racegoers flooded the Parade Ring in anticipation of Björn Again’s performance. There was a fantastic atmosphere with racegoers enjoying an evening to remember with one of the world’s most successful bands.

The Björn Again show was created and founded in 1988 in Melbourne by Australian director and musician Rod Stephen and has gone on to be hugely popular, the enduring appeal of Abba reflected in the ongoing success of the show, having amassed 5,600 performances in 72 countries in 32 years.

In addition this year the racecourse has introduced sustainable music nights, with Friday’s meeting being used to raise awareness on becoming more environmentally sustainable.

They called upon racegoers to help the efforts into making the music nights more sustainable, with two bike generators in use for spectators to pedal to generate electricity.

We also encouraged racegoers to car share and use of public transport to get to and from the races, raised awareness of energy saving devices by reminding people to switch off devices at home and encouraged racegoers to use the recycling points on site among other changes made.

There was some fantastic racing to kick off proceedings too. The feature race on the card was the £30,000 EBF Restricted Maiden and 16 two-year-olds took to the turf to strut their stuff.

What looked a competitive race on paper was turned into a procession by Tony Coyle and Kaine Wood’s newcomer Regal Gem.

David Nolan did the steering aboard the son of Zoustar and the writing was on the wall a long way from home.

The winner was well backed with Coyle confirming the high regard that Regal Gem was held in: “He was ready for the Brocklesby but the ground went against him so we made a plan to wait for the good prize money of this race and come here. We won’t be rushing him but he’s a really good type.”

There was a promising run in second for Charlie Johnston’s Expensive Rose, who flew up the home straight to grab the runner-up spot.

The other two year old race on the card was the Northern Commercials Fillies Novice and Hollie Doyle and Charlie Appleby teamed up with the exciting Enchanted Life.

Sent off a well backed favourite, punters did not have any anxious moments as Hollie steered the daughter of Kodiac to a 1¾ length success over Roger Varian’s Esprit Queen, who ran an eyecatching first race.

The opening race on the card celebrated the 50th birthday of Ponte regular Leigh Sutton. The 1m handicap was won in impressive fashion by Rebecca Menzies’ Million Thanks.

The winner had some excellent form earlier in his career and has been brought back to form by the Menzies team. Stretching clear under Oisin Orr, the winner will be turned out quickly under a penalty and is likely to go in again soon.

Gordon Grey had been knocking on the door in his recent runs, finishing runner-up on the last three occasions. Ben Brookhouse’s runner was well fancied to finally put his head in front and his front running tactics were deployed perfectly by Jack Gilligan on a course that can play to the strengths of horses who like to be close to the pace.

Brookhouse was determined to win the race sponsored by some of his owners and Gordon Grey played his part to perfection.

There was another all the way winner in the 1m2f handicap when Charlie Johnston’s Yippee made every post a winning one under Franny Norton.

The winner briefly looked in trouble as they turned into the home straight, but kept finding more for pressure before sprinting clear to win, eased down, by 2¾ lengths.

There was a sense of déjà vu to the finale as Ventura Express registered his fourth win at Pontefract, following up his victory in the corresponding race last year.

Paul Midgley’s charge loves the West Yorkshire air, holding the fast finishing Zarzyni by a head and giving David Nolan a double following his win on Regal Gem.

The next race meeting at the Yorkshire track is another evening fixture. The award winning Racing For Everyone Race Night, held on Monday, June 10, sees the track throwing its doors open to guests who may be looking to go racing for the first time.

With BSL signers on the big screen, an autism friendly sensory room, and a ‘trip down memory lane’ talk, there is plenty going on for everyone.

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Blog – 17th May

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, who is writing today’s blog, and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard.

Up next at Pontefract we have our first music night of the year, a night with double the fun in store. On Friday 24th May we have six thrilling races starting from 6.15pm, followed by incredible music! A popular event in our racing calendar, we have hosted a variety of international superstars with previous acts including Sister Sledge, Kim Wilde and Belinda Carlisle. This year we are delighted to be welcoming the internationally acclaimed, Björn Again to perform some of ABBA’s greatest hits after racing.

The Björn Again show was created and founded in 1988 in Melbourne, by AustralianDirector and Musician Rod Stephen, the show has been extremely successful, the enduring appeal of ABBA is reflected in the ongoing success of the show having amassed 5,600 performances in 72 countries in 32 years.

Designed as a rocked-up light-hearted satirical ABBA spoof, the show rapidly achieved worldwide Cult status and acknowledged for singlehandedly initiating the ABBA revival which brought about ABBA Gold, Muriel’s Wedding and MAMMA MIA!

We are super excited to welcome Björn Again to Pontefract and are sure you’ll be thanking us for the music!

Björn Again will be taking to the stage after six exhilarating races on the card featuring the £30,000 The British Stallion Studs EBF Restricted Maiden Stakes. It is sure to be a night to remember with top class racing and show stopping entertainment – a fantastic occasion to create wonderful memories, so gather your dancing kings and queens for a night at Pontefract Races.

In addition, this year we have introduced sustainable music nights. The Music Nights are two of our most popular meetings attracting large crowds, and as such we want to raise awareness on becoming more environmentally sustainable. It is no secret the amount of energy used in creating and putting on a show, there’s the stage, lights and generators to name just a few. We considered what we could do at Pontefract to become more sustainable.

We will be calling upon racegoers to help us in our efforts into making our Music Nights more sustainable, there will be two bike generators in which racegoers can pedal to generate electricity. We will also be encouraging racegoers to car share and use of public transport to get to and from the races, raise awareness of energy saving devices by reminding people to switch off devices at home and encourage racegoers to use the recycling points on site amongst other changes we will be making.

Tickets for this event are on sale now via the website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk  or over the phone on 01977 781307.

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Blog – 3rd May

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard, who is writing today’s blog.

NATIONAL HORSERACING COLLEGE CHARITY DAY AT PONTEFRACT

The National Horseracing College Charity Day is when Pontefract traditionally looks to the future stars of racing, both human and equine. Racing on Wednesday 1st May saw the charity race day run for the 35th time.

The National Horseracing College, based just outside Doncaster, was set up in 1984 and provides a range of courses at all levels for people who are looking at the horseracing industry as a future career. It also offers those currently in the business the chance to develop their qualifications and skills and provides the ideal opportunity to nurture the grass roots and future of the sport.

The Apprentices kicked proceedings off with the 3rd round of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars series. The race went the way of Bryan Smart’s Princess Karine under jockey William Pyle. Appropriately, William is a graduate of the NHC and showcased his talents to fine effect, steering the favourite to an easy 5½ lengths success, making every yard of the running.

The Northern Commercials Maiden over 5f saw some interesting 2 year olds strut their stuff for the first time. There were some on course whispers for Karl Burke’s Invincible Annice and Adrian Keatley’s Francisco’s Piece and the two fought out the finish with Keatley’s charging winning by 1¼ lengths. Both the first and second look as though they have an excellent future ahead of them and can make their mark as the season progresses.

The remaining five races were all run in support of The National Horseracing College. There was a good spare ride available on Ian Williams’ Giselles Defence in the 1m2f handicap and Clifford Lee stepped into the saddle. A new recruit for the Williams team, the gelding had shown some decent form for Gavin Cromwell in Ireland and looks set to exploit an attractive handicap mark in the coming weeks. The 4 year old strolled clear to win eased down by 4 lengths from Harriet Bethell’s Bearwith.

The Bethell team aimed to hit back straight away when sending out the favourite for the 1m Handicap, On The River, who had won at the most recent meeting on the 22nd April. Everything seemed to be going to plan for Cam Hardie’s mount but he was outstayed close home by Darryll Holland’s 4 year old colt, Pearl Eye. On his first outing of the season, the son of Expert Eye looked in great shape and another good season beckons.

Once again, the Bethell team were runner up on the final race on the card when Isle of Wolves failed by ¾ length to reel in Roger Fell’s She’s Got Bottle. The winner was following up her victory in the same race in 2023 and made every yard of the running under Danny Tudhope. Tudhope was completing a double on the card having steered Sean Woods’ Savvy Exchange to victory in the 1mile Maiden. The winner was sent off a short priced favourite and is clearly well regarded by the team who have targeted this race with decent horses in the past. He’s one to monitor closely.

The Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust Handicap saw a winner for the Amy Murphy team. Bogged down in heavy ground earlier in the season, the winner skipped over the drying ground to score by an easy 3½ lengths. 

The next meeting at Pontefract is Music Night on Friday eve 24th May and the incredible Bjorn Again will perform after racing. Tickets are still available and are currently on sale via the website.

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Blog – 15th April

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, and
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard.

Castleford Tigers and Pontefract Racecourse announce new partnership.

Castleford Tigers have joined forces with Pontefract Racecourse to cross promote the two different sporting experiences to fans in the area.

Over the coming season, branding for each attraction will be placed on each partner site, highlighting alternative sporting and entertainment opportunities to locals and visitors alike.

As the two biggest sporting venues in the local area, this partnership opens some exciting opportunities for the fans of both sports throughout the season including the Tigers presence at family fun race meets in the summer months.

 
Richard Hammill, Chief Operating Officer at Pontefract Racecourse who told us: “We’re thrilled to be working in conjunction with Castleford Tigers this season to jointly promote both of our sports to each of our fans. It’s an obvious step for the Racecourse to work alongside our sporting neighbours in Castleford and we’re delighted to partner with the club to deliver top class sporting options for the local area. “


Tigers’ Commercial Director, Laura Kirk commented on the new partnership: “We’re really excited about our new partnership with Pontefract Racecourse. Within less than a four-mile radius, people have two great sporting experiences to enjoy and we’re looking forward to working with the team at the Racecourse this season.  Both Castleford Tigers and Pontefract Racecourse play a huge part in influencing social and economic development in our respective communities. We understand the importance of our venues to the local communities and through working together we can achieve so much more!”

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Blog – 29th March

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, who is writing today’s blog, and
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard.

Its Good Friday, the Bank Holiday Easter Weekend has arrived, and we hope you are enjoying plenty of Easter Eggs!

The Easter Weekend also means the start of the new season is right around the corner, the last couple of days have been rather hectic to say least. Final preparations to the weighing room are well underway and we have been busy settling in and organising our brand new raceday office. It is looking very smart!

I even managed to build some flat pack furniture to go in the Weighing Room and impressed myself!

It’s not just the new office and weighing room though we have to get set up, the whole Racecourse needs to be to be primed to welcome race goers back on the 2nd April. The ground staff have been hard at work getting the track ready and ensuring the Course is looking in tip top shape.

On Tuesday we have plenty of Easter treats in store, the Easter Racehorse will be on hand to dish out some chocolate goodies, we are stocked up on crème eggs. In the Picnic Enclosure we have a selection of funfair rides as well as an Easter Egg Hunt. There are images of eight eggs located around the Enclosure, you need to collect all the words to complete the sentence, once you think you have the right sentence check at the transfer gate and there may be a tasty prize in store. *Hint* download the Raceday Ready App for clues on locating the eggs! 

We have a free drop in art workshop taking place with James Owen Thomas, an award-winning environmental artist between 1pm and 4pm taking place just next to the Grandstand and Paddock Turnstiles. James has created a piece of artwork for us previously as part of our sustainability campaign, the artwork is made from recycled materials including previous raceday leaflets and tickets. James has also worked for Great British Racing, having created a piece of art for the King’s Coronation that was unveiled here at Ponte. 

This is an art workshop designed for all abilities, it’s a chance to get creative in a relaxed, sociable atmosphere, learning how to make your own environmentally-friendly collage!

Tuesday is also World Autism Acceptance Day, a rather fitting day to start our Autism Friendly Racedays. There is still time to register for tickets on Tuesday, please email autisminracing@gmail.com

There is plenty taking place throughout the Course and we are very much looking forward to welcoming race goers back for another year! 

Out on the track we have the first leg of the stayers championship, The Jamaican Flight Handicap Stakes. The Stayers Championship is for all races run over two miles, there are nine races in total. The winner of the each race receives 9 points, 6 points for second, 4 points for third and 3 points for fourth. The owner, trainer and stable of the Championship winner each win £1500. 

Enjoy your weekend and hopefully we will see you Tuesday!

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Blog – 15th March

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard, who is writing today’s blog.

Well, it’s nearly here….the 2024 racing season gets underway on Easter Tuesday 2nd April. And, if it ever stops raining, we’ve got some fantastic things lined up for 2024 and we kick off with our Easter Extravaganza. You can expect plenty of Easter treats instore, including an Easter Egg Hunt in the Picnic Enclosure and some fairground rides.

Not only does our first race meeting fall on Easter Tuesday, it is also World Autism Awareness Day which is a really fitting way to start our Autism Friendly racedays for 2024. If you’d like to learn more, click here – or register to attend by completing this questionnaire.

As people up and down the country continue to struggle with rising costs, we have decided that we will be holding our prices for many of the race meetings in 2024 meaning that tickets for the 10 midweek meetings purchased at the early bird rate are the same price as they were in 2010! We are so grateful to the local communities for their support and wanted to do our bit to ease the costs for those who attend. 

In keeping with our Yorkshire values, we have also continued our most popular cost effective True Yorkshireman package.

There are some proper savings so that even the most careful of Yorkshire folk can see some real value. For all our racedays (other than the Music Nights and Ladies Day) ‘The True Yorkshireman’ package will be available. Racegoers will be able to get entry to the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure, a pint of lager/bitter or a glass of wine and a pie – all for £16. The package is only available up to one month before each race meeting but offers a discount of almost 50% on ‘on the day’ prices.

As part of the 2024 Raceday entertainment, we will once again have two Friday Night music nights. The critically acclaimed Björn Again will perform at the Music Night race meeting on Friday Eve 24th May while longstanding Oasis tribute, Definitely Mightbe will be on stage on the 19th July when there’ll also be a local beer festival. The other evening race meeting (Monday 10th June) sees the return of the award winning ‘Racing For Everyone’ race night where we extend a warm welcome to those thinking of trying racing for the first time. There’ll be an orientation tour before the gates open so those with specific accessibility needs can check out the courses’ facilities before the general public arrive. There’ll also be an autism friendly, sensory space as well as BSL interpreters who will be signing the race commentaries to support the Deaf Community.

The popular Family Sundays return with the Yorkshire Heritage Family Day on the 23rd June. There’s more music for Tribute Bands family day on 28th July and the Sky Bet Sunday Series concludes at Pontefract on 18th August – our Premier Fixture in 2024.

Not forgetting Ladies Day (on 7th August) when, once again, RIU Hotels and Resorts will be providing a long haul flight and all inclusive break to the best dressed lady. This year, the lucky winner will be heading to Mauritius. 

There’s a lot to look forward to and we can’t wait to get started.

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Blog – 1st March

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, who is writing today’s blog, and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard.

With the 2024 season fast approaching and our first fixture less than 5 weeks away, we have had a busy couple of days at the Racecourse this week.

On Wednesday we invited raceday staff in for a training day and on Thursday we hosted our annual ‘Welcome Lunch’.

Wednesday started with coffee and catch ups as we welcomed our raceday members of staff back for a morning of training. The day started with a talk and presentation from Mr Gundill, followed by Richard, who gave an overview of this years upcoming racedays. Richard also spoke about the improvements we have made on the course to the accessible facilities and following his training with the National Autistc Society, Richard trained our staff on how they can best help and assist autistic racegoers.

As a dementia friendly racecourse, Carol recently attended a Dementia Awareness course and was able to train our raceday staff. Carol explained how best to communicate with a person who has been diagnosed with dementia, how to avoid jumping to conclusions about someone’s actions, and managing a conversation as well as the importance of using body language in the correct way. 

We then welcomed Sarah from Racing Welfare, a charity who support the workforce within British Racing offering professional guidance as well as practical help with all sorts including housing, medical assistance and mental health. The services are available to all those who work within the sport, from stud staff to racecourse staff. Sarah talked to us all about the different services available.

The morning was finished with a fantastic lunch from the team at Huggamug, the brownies went down a treat! It was great to welcome back our raceday staff and we look forward to seeing them all on the 2nd April and I’m sure they are looking forward to welcoming you all back to the Racecourse!

On Thursday we welcomed around 50 people including members of the press, sponsors, and local trainers for lunch to look ahead to the new season and celebrate what a year 2023 was!

The afternoon started with some good old networking before we all took our seats for lunch. Lunch was catered for by the amazing team at Huggamug, a big thank you to Jo, Andy and all their staff for a delicious lunch, there hospitality was wonderful and thank you to CGC Events for also helping and manning the bar! On the menu was Beef Sunday Lunch or chicken and leek pie, followed by very generous portions of either brownie or crumble for pudding and a cheese board!

Following lunch Richard and Mr Gundill gave an updates on the new developments with the Weighing Room and the work being done over at the stables. Richard also spoke about becoming the first Racecourse to host Autism friendly racedays across every fixture with Autism in Racing (please find on X @autisminracing) and our upcoming work New Beginnings as part of our 12 months of giving.

As we looked back on last years season we were able to dish out some awards. The first award went to our 2023 Stayers Champion, Yorkindness! Trained by Charlie and Mark Johnston, she held top position on the leaderboard for most of the season with a very impressive total of 3 wins from just 3 starts at Pontefract.

Training performance of the season went to Ruth Carr and her horse Reigning Profit. To our knowledge, Reigning Profit is the first horse to ever win consecutive races at Pontefract! On the 24th April he won the last race on the card and then went onto win the first race on the card at the very following meeting!

Ride of the season went in the way of Callum Rodriguez for his ride aboard Emily Post, trained by Micheal Dods. From sitting at the back of the field for the majority of the race, coming up to the final few furlongs the pair picked off the rest of the runners to take first place!

Carrigillihy, received a well-deserved Special Recognition Award for his efforts around the track at Ponte. Trained by Tim Easterby, Carrigillihy has racked up a remarkable 5 wins at Pontefract and counting! We hope to see him back here for another season.

The final award was presented to Yorkindness, winner of the Ponte Horse of the Year 2023 Award! This was an award voted for by the public at the end of last year on twitter and I’m sure we can all agree it was very well deserving!

It was a wonderful afternoon and always signifies that the start of the season is imminent, we look forward to opening the gates to you all on the 2nd April.

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Blog – 16th February

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, who is writing today’s blog, and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard.

Ladies Day is one of my personal highlights of the year. I love seeing the fashion and getting involved in making this such a great day out for everyone.

Wednesday 7th August sees the return of our annual Ladies Day Fixture, a highlight of the racing calendar. It is a fabulous day full of glitz and glamour, and there always promises to be a showcase of style both on and off the track as the Ladies of Yorkshire truly do ‘dress to impress’.

The atmosphere of Ladies Day is like no other, it’s a great day out to enjoy with friends and loved ones, it’s a day when action-packed racing meets fabulous fashion! Over the years we have seen some amazing outfits, all worthy of a chance at winning the Best Dressed Competition.

 
Pictured above is last year’s winner Charlotte! Photo: Hannah Ali

It is the news you have all been waiting to hear! We can now reveal where the lucky winner of this year’s coveted Best Dressed Ladies Competition will be jetting off to.

So this year, we will be sending one very lucky Lady away to,

*drumroll please* …

*insert dramatic pause*…

MAURITIUS courtesy of the fantastic RIU Hotels & Resorts.

RIU have sponsored the competition now for many years and we are very grateful for their continued support and generosity. Previous winners of the competition have holidayed in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamica to name just a few of the fantastic destinations!

The winner will be off on a week long, all-inclusive stay for two with flights included! Does it get much better than a free holiday to a stunning island located in the Indian Ocean? I’m not sure it does!

We can’t thank RIU enough for their sponsorship. This year not only have the provided an incredible prize for our winning Lady but there is also a spectacular prize for the runner up. This year’s runner up will win a four-night stay for two people at the RIU Hotel in Dubai! (Flights are not included)

The format of the competition while differ slightly from past years. Those wishing to enter the competition can do so throughout the early afternoon by making their way to a designated area to be snapped up for a photo! The photo then acts as your submission into the competition which will be judged by an independent panel. The winner will then later be announced by Heart Radio presenters Dixie and Emma.

Gents, we haven’t forgotten about you! There is also the Best Dressed Gents Competition with cash prizes up for grabs.

So be sure to don your best outfits for a shot at the top prize. We look forward to welcoming you all on Ladies Day.

Ladies Day Hospitality is now very limited. There are still spaces available in the Ladies Day Marquee, however the Park Suite is fully booked. Find out more about tickets here.

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Autism Friendly Racedays at Pontefract

Pontefract Racecourse is thrilled to announce that all race meetings at the West Yorkshire track in 2024 will be Autism Friendly racedays, making it the first Racecourse in the country to host Autism in Racing Racedays on every day.

Bobby Beevers, Chair and Founder of Autism in Racing is delighted to get more Autism Friendly racedays in the calendar and commented:

“I think it’s absolutely amazing that Pontefract are making all their fixtures Autism-Friendly. Huge well done to Richard, Norman and the team for making it happen. Autism in Racing and Pontefract Racecourse have built a strong relationship and I’m really looking forward to working with the track for the season ahead.”

Hosting it’s first Autism in Racing racedays in 2023, Pontefract has made huge steps in improving all aspects of accessibility at the Racecourse and recently carried out a major scheme to upgrade the accessible facilities throughout the site. Their ‘Racing for Everyone’ race meeting in June 2023 won the coveted ‘Raceday Award’ at the Racecourse Association Showcase Event in November.

Richard Hammill, Chief Operating Officer for Pontefract Racecourse said:

‘Raising awareness of Autism and playing our part in enabling the Racing Industry to be more inclusive is hugely important to us all at Pontefract. The Racecourse has a long association of working with customers and racegoers who have additional needs, as well as with Autism in Racing and to be able to put something in place to make the Racecourse even more inclusive throughout the season is incredible.’

The Racecourse will be working in conjunction with their ticketing provider, Future Ticketing, who will provide valuable funding to enable the initiative to take place every day. 

Hammill continued:

‘We are thrilled to be working with Future Ticketing to host Autism Friendly racedays throughout 2024. Their support is invaluable and we are really excited to be able to partner with them on this project.’

Ann Marie Guinan, Chief Marketing Officer of Future Ticketing, was excited that Future Ticketing could be part of the venture:

‘Future Ticketing are extremely proud to work with Pontefract Races on this project. Racing is an inclusive and accessible sport and we are delighted that we can enable further attendance and an Autism friendly experience to racegoers at Ponte.’

As part of their Autism Friendly racedays, the Racecourse and Future Ticketing will provide designated quiet and safe spaces for autistic Racegoers, or those who may have additional needs, including complimentary soft drinks and biscuits. In addition, there will be a dedicated sensory room, provided by Immersive, at every race meeting.

William Buick, champion jockey and Ambassador for Autism in Racing said:

“I congratulate Pontefract for their commitment to Autism Friendly racedays. My family has first hand experience of autism and as an Ambassador for Autism in Racing I welcome the way racecourses are embracing the concept.”

Any racegoers wishing to apply for places at any Autism in Racing fixture should contact Autism in Racing on X at https://twitter.com/autisminracing (@autisminracing).

Richard Hammill
Chief Operating Officer
Pontefract Racecourse
01977 781307

For more information on Pontefract Racecourse, please visit www.pontefract-races.co.uk

To discover services offered by Future Ticketing, please visit https://www.futureticketing.com/

A brand new Autism in Racing website will be developed over the coming months. In the meantime, to learn more about Autism in Racing please visit https://twitter.com/autisminracing

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Blog  – 5th January

Welcome to another blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill, who is writing today’s blog!
  • His trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia, and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard.

Happy New Year!

We are now in the “thick of winter”, although it might be more appropriate to call it “the rainy season”.

We are often surprised that many people think that the pressure is off and we can have an easy time. Not a bit of it. Winter is the time when we take stock of the past season, carry out any major improvements, deal with all the repairs which the past year have thrown up and put in hand all the arrangements for the coming season.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) are requiring all Racecourses to upgrade their “Weighing Rooms” which include all the facilities for Jockeys and Officials. To be fair, the last major upgrade we carried out was just over 30 years ago and our facilities do need a complete overhaul. This is a major scheme which absolutely must be completed in time for us to race on Easter Tuesday 2nd April – no pressure then! Sleepless nights ahead.

The current weighing room look.

The Fixture List for 2024 was published towards the end of last year. We have our “usual“ 16 race meetings on roughly equivalent dates. Now we need to revise the detail of each days races and the prizemoney we can offer. We strive to offer as much as possible but the BHA has introduced some radical changes to the structure of race meetings this year and the funding which we will get from the Horserace Betting Levy Board towards prizemoney is to go down because it is being concentrated on major Saturday meetings and festivals.

This years fixture list.

Bearing in mind ever increasing costs, balancing the books is a headache.

Apart from a small number of permanent staff, the staff and contractors we require on racedays are engaged for a “season” at a time and we will start making arrangements in the next few weeks.

As a place of “entertainment” for the general public, we have to comply with a plethora of rules and regulations. In addition to those laid down by the BHA, we have a Safety Certificate issued under the Safety of Sports Ground Act and we have to arrange rigorous checks and inspections before the new season can start. These include a structural survey, testing the electrics, gas, emergency lighting, heating, ventilation and fire alarm systems, checking lifts, turnstiles and roller shutters, in effect all mechanical services.

We also have to look after the racetrack itself and get it ready to race on in April when the rain relents and we can get on it, it will still need mowing (occasionally) spiking or vertidraining, and there will be railings to clean.

In short, we need to plan and implement everything necessary to ensure the racecourse is in good order and ready for everyone at our first meeting on Easter Tuesday, 2nd April.

We look forward to seeing you.