Blog – Friday 19th 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 Music Night Countdown

The countdown is well and truly on for the first of our music nights at Ponte (26th May).

It’s a busy, but slightly stressful, time for the team as we make sure that everything is in place. All Racecourses approach their music events from different viewpoints. But for us, with strict budget constraints, we try and cut out as many third parties as possible and, where we can, we deal directly with the artist(e)’s management team, arrange the stage directly with Event Equipment Hire and manage the sound and lighting production with John who knows the layout of the Racecourse well and knows the type of show that the audience respond to.

There is a huge amount of planning and preparation that goes on behind the scenes – with additional toilet facilities, bar marquees, extra furniture, new catering outlets, security planning meetings, back up generators, medical and veterinary requirements etc – no stone is left unturned.

Purist racegoers are often critical of racecourses who stage music events but, for us, we think that they provide a great way to introduce a new crowd to Pontefract. We’re very lucky to be so well supported by racegoers throughout Yorkshire and we want to be able to showcase the racecourse as both a corporate and a social venue so that these racegoers have us in mind when they are looking for options for days out with their family, or for somewhere to go with work colleagues or a destination that they might consider entertaining clients.  By seeing the Racecourse host a music act, we hope that they might return to us at a later date with their friends. But the racing should always be the focus of the event. At Pontefract, it is not by accident that the music forms an arena around the Parade Ring where the equine stars take centre stage. When marketing the racecourse, I have always believed that no matter what the theme of the day, we should arrange attractions for the customer but must always keep the horse at the very heart of everything we do. You cannot get away from the main event stars, the horses, when you attend a music night with us.

As a child of the 80s, it will come as no surprise that I have quite a big part to play when it comes to choosing the musical choices each year! We’ve been lucky to welcome some really incredible acts over the years – Cheryl, Mike & Jay (formerly of Bucks Fizz), Bananarama, Belinda Carlisle, Billy Ocean and, last year, Sister Sledge. And this year it’s the turn of Kim Wilde. The youngest member of our team, Alexia, nods her head politely when we talk about the performers, most of whom were topping the charts well before she was born. It’ll be Alexia’s first experience of a music night at Pontefract – as a child of the 00s, perhaps we’ll let her choose the artists for 2024!