Blog – 9 December 2022

Welcome to the first official blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!). Firstly, let me introduce the Admin team:

  • 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 the first blog.

Ponte Pride – 9 December 2022

A long time ago, back in November 2019, in a world before Covid was even a thing, the team at Ponte were incredibly honoured to be crowned the Champion Racecourse at the Racecourse Association Showcase Awards hosted by the reigning champions, Hamilton.

For obvious reasons, we’ve not been able to host the event since until our chance finally came round on 10th November this year.

With around 250 delegates due to be in attendance, we set to creating a Showcase Event that was truly befitting of Ponte, making sure that the gathered masses, many of whom had not been to Pontefract before, were truly welcomed into our racing world with our brand and Yorkshire heritage dominant in every aspect of the event.

For those that have not been to Ponte before, the logistics of organising an event for 250 people on the site are challenging to say the least. We do not have a conference or restaurant facility large enough to seat this size of party , and, with the majority of the site on a pronounced slope, options for a marquee were limited. The only way round the problems was to site a marquee on the track itself, just beyond the winning post. But with no services close by, we had to arrange gas, electric and water as well.

What seemed like a great idea in November ’19, suddenly seemed to be something of a mission impossible.

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The marquee build took two weeks

But we don’t like to be beaten and the team pulled together in the most incredible way. The marquee company, our catering team, our fantastic groundstaff, the office team and the wonderful marketing team from the RCA left no stone unturned.

Marquees were put up, walkways were covered, red carpet was laid, walls and woodwork were repainted, lawns were manicured, bathrooms were given a makeover and 250 Yorkshire goodie bags were packed. I cannot begin to tell you how immensely proud I was of the whole team of pulling off such an impressive and seamless event.

The Yorkshire Goodie Bags
The last minute toilet refurb
We’re ready!

As is often the case, beneath the elegant exterior of the graceful swan, there was a whole lot going on under the surface to ensure that everything went smoothly. The delegates didn’t see that the generator failed straight after the seminar section of the afternoon meaning our electrician was poised by a replacement generator for 4 hours solid! They didn’t see the industrial heater breakdown meaning one of the team needed to re-set it every 4 or 5 minutes. They didn’t see the aftermath the morning after. But that is what makes an event great I guess – a brilliant team, pulling together to ensure that the customer has a great experience.

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The office and groundstaff teams

To win two awards on the night was absolutely the icing on the cake – the Marketing Award for our ‘Silver Surfers and OAP Free Day’ Campaign and the Food & Beverage Award for our amazing on site café, Huggamug.

The team collecting an award

The event gave us two weeks of apprehension and, at times, terror, but was one of the most brilliant nights we’ve had. All down to teamwork and hard graft.

All the best to the new Showcase Champions, Aintree. We can’t wait to celebrate with you in 2023!