Blog – 28th July

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

In today’s blog we thought we take a look at the runners in the Listed Race here on Sunday …

The Listed SkyBet Pomfret Stakes is taking place on Sunday 30th July, staged over a mile, with six horses entered. There’s just 6lbs between the highest and lowest rated and it looks to be a fiercely competitive race.

A ‘Listed’ race at Class 1 level is the highest quality race that we stage at Pontefract and we have 5 of these races throughout the season. A Listed race sits below the standard of a Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3 race, but is classified as being of a higher standard than a handicap and we often see some classy performers competing. As a general guide, a ‘Listed’ standard horse has an average rating of 100. With all horses entered to run on Sunday being rated between 103 and 109, it looks like to be a good quality renewal.

Last year’s winner Alflaila, trained by Owen Burrows, is the current title holder. He won the 2022 renewal under Jim Crowley showing a serious turn of foot when turning for home leaving the rest of the field behind. The Shadwell bred colt went on to win two group three races following success at Pontefract, taking the Strensall Stakes at York and the Darley Stakes at Newmarket. He makes his return to the track this weekend at York in the SkyBet York Stakes and will no doubt be looking to resume his winning streak. He now is rated 116 which shows the quality of winner that this race can produce.

Shadwell have another representative this year with Al Mubhir. Trainer William Haggas is, however, looking for his first win in the race. The son of Frankel won a £50,000 feature race at Leicester earlier in the season, winning well under William Buick. He was third on his last trip out in a Listed Race at Haydock. Tom Marquand takes the ride on Sunday.

Poker Face, is unbeaten at Ponte and will be looking for his third success at the track. Winning on debut here last September for Simon and Ed Crisford, it was soon followed by another win here in October. This season he made an impressive effort in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket to finish second behind Godolphin’s Ottoman Fleet and more recently on his last run was again second in a Listed Race at Sandown.

Royal Ascot winner Witch Hunter will also be lining up. The winner of the Buckingham Place Stakes at the Royal meeting saw him beat a field of 29 runners to out run his odds of 50/1 and land jockey Jamie Spencer his first win at Royal Ascot since 2018. The duo will be hoping for further success this season for trainer Richard Hannon.

The highest rated runner in the field is George Boughey’s Raadobarg. Just behind Poker Face at Newmarket, he ran a stormer to finish 3rd to Chindit at Ascot. Boughey is currently the joint leading trainer at Ponte in 2023 and will be keen to get another winner on the board.

Yorkshire based horse Flight Plan is the only youngster in the field at 3 years old. Being younger than the rest, the conditions of the race mean that he carries less weight than his opponents. He ran in the Group 1 2000 Guineas earlier in the season and so is clearly well thought of by Karl Burke.

Archie Watson’s Excel Power, completes the field. Despite being the lower rated, he’s no slouch and has already won 8 races in his career.  

It looks like a fascinating race and we’re really looking forward to it. Opinion in the Ponte office is divided and the tips of the team are below:

Alexia – Raadobarg

Richard – Poker Face

Caroline – Poker Face

Carol – Witch Hunter

Nicola – Excel Power