Blog Friday 5th 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)


Wednesday 3rd May marked the 34th running of the National Horseracing College Charity Day at Pontefract.

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. On the 3rd May, we welcome several of the learners and instructors to the course to gain some hands on experience of a day at the races. Under the brilliant leadership of the Chief Executive, Colonel Padgett, there is no better place to learn for those who are wanting to get involved in the racing industry.

Fittingly, the Apprentices kicked proceedings off with the 3rd round of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars series. It was a special race in more ways than one with Reigning Profit making a little bit of Ponte history by becoming the first horse to win consecutive races at the track! He had won the final race at the previous race meeting and followed up in some style under Christian Howarth for trainer Ruth Carr . Once again, he was bounced out of the stalls and made all the running to win, going away, by 2 lengths. Have we got another Ponte specialist on our hands?

On the same card, there was finally something for Leeds United fans to cheer about when The Cookstown Cafu, who is named after Leeds United fan favourite Stuart Dallas, followed up his recent win at Redcar. Kevin Ryans winner looks as though he’s definitely one who’ll be stepping up to the premier league.

It was also fantastic to welcome local artist, James Owen Thomas back to Pontefract. James had been commissioned by the Racecourse to create 4 pieces of artwork for a recycling campaign in 2019, using materials that were destined for the bin. Using old racecourse badges, brochures and tickets etc, he created some wonderful artwork that can be seen at the Racecourse on a raceday.

As part of the celebrations for the Coronation of King Charles III, Great British Racing had commissioned a piece by James to highlight the Royal Family’s long standing engagement with the sport. One of the King’s big passions is sustainability, meaning that there was a fantastic opportunity for James to be involved in such a momentous occasion. We were honoured that James chose to unveil his new artwork at Pontefract and it was wonderful to welcome him and his family back to the course. His incredible art can be seen in Pateley Bridge, with this particular piece touring round a number of racecourses in the coming months.