Pontefract and Ripon Races,Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd July 2018

On Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival Eve the racing eyes of the White Rose County came in huge droves to Pontefract for the annual Red Shirt Night with a fairy useful card and despite some small fields which have been occurring due to this rare dry spell in the north, the crowd were treated to some good finishes.  

Pontefract always draws a big crowd in for this fixture and despite local Super League teams Castleford and Leeds both having home games it didn’t detract as the good Yorkshire folk descended to the M62 based course, famous for Pontefract Cakes,Haribo and for railway fans a chance to still see the Northern Rail Pacer trains which still operate on the network around here as the trundle along the line just across the road from the 1m2f start. 

The evenings valuable contest came in the 1m Optional Claiming Handicap and this was taken by the David O’Meara trained Waarif who followed up from last months success in the Carlisle Bell to land the spoils, upped 5lb for that win he had enough in hand to hold off Fashion Theory by three quarters of a length and remains in good form and is a consistent yardstick at this level, going in here off 86 the handicapper should move him to over 90 when next reassessed, he will have plenty options open to him in bigger company but for now he is in a good run of form. 

Watchable landed the first of what became a double for the O’Meara yard when landing the feature 5f Handicap in what became a battle of the oldies as the evergreen 8yo beat former Group 1 winning fellow sprinter the 10yo Move In Time by a length and a half, this was a nice race to watch and both still clearly love their racing. 


Pontefract’s opening race was a 2yo Novice Auction over 6f race that saw a winning debut from Metallic Black under Tony Hamilton and this was a fairly decent performance as he made most of the running and kept on towards the end and should be a more than useful enough sprinter in time, the big disappointment came in the favourite Hot Team who didn’t get the best break and was always on the backfoot but he can be forgiven for this and when he gets upped back in trip to 7f he will be a lot better than tonight’s run 

Mark Johnstone has his horses in good order as always at this time of year and Hibernicus easily followed up his maiden win at Carlisle to stroll home in the 1m4f Novice Stakes, this was a fairly weak race but he could no more than win as expected he is one to keep an eye on during the rest of the season. 


The following day saw the beautiful garden racecourse of Ripon open up the ever popular 2019 Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival with a seven race card and the days feature race was the 1m4f Ripon Bell-Ringer Handicap which stuck to its tradition of having the said person ring the bell on the winning line the moment the stalls open and the runners begin their journey. 

This years race was a very useful event with plenty of the big Yorkshire trainers represented and a proper grandstand finish at the business end with the top five covered by a length and three quarters as the first prize of £15,562.50 found its way to Mrs Shirley France the owner of Benadalid as the only 3yo in the race came down the outside of the long Ripon home straight to deny Tim Easterby of a clean sweep of this famous race, the step up in trip clearly suits Benadalid and should be suited by even further, it’s doubtful he is a Melrose type but a shot at a bigger target looks likely now. 


Jockey David Nolan made sure his good lady wife Katie kept him in her good books as her horse that she owns with trainer Richard Fahey landed the 5f 2yo Novice Stakes in good style and looks to have a fairly bright future, having run at the track before it’s possible that a return here for the Ripon 2yo Trophy would be a good choice as opposed to the big York 2yo events at the Ebor Meeting. 

Weellan continued his love affair with Ripon as this is the second time he was won here in both his career wins to take the 1m Handicap to form the second of a David Nolan hat-trick on the day and it’s possible the Ripon Rowells here might be considered for the David O’Meara trained 5yo, Nolan’s other win came in the finale on Stewardess. 

Finally Winged Spur looks a filly going places as she made all in typical Mark Johnstone fashion to land the 1m2f Handicap as she kept finding more when asked and is one to keep onside for the time being. 

Winged Spur

Two useful days racing in Yorkshire and plenty to enjoy and note down for the future. 

Next up we return to Haydock in a few weeks time for the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes, till then it’s goodbye. 

Haydock Park, Saturday 7th July 2018, Bet365 Old Newton Cup Day

On a boiling hot afternoon in the midst of a proper British sporting summer at Haydock Park it was an afternoon of celebrations for the Owners Group 004 Syndicate as they very much like Harry Kane is hoping to do next Sunday lifted up an historic sporting trophy as their pride and joy Rainbow Rebel landed the 2018 running of the Old Newton Cup in a real head bobbing finish from Crowned Eagle in a pulsating end to this famous Haydock flat race. 

The pace was strong from the gates opening as Atkinson Grimshaw set a decent and honest gallop from the off and still had the lead turning into the straight but like most breakaways that you will see in the Tour De France over the next three weeks he was quickly gathered in by the peloton with three furlongs left and dropped right back down the field, Rainbow Rebel came through to lead under Joe Fanning with half a furlong left and got the verdict in the judges box in a race that always has a lot of drama about it. 

Mark Johnston was landing his third Old Newton Cup in six years with Rainbow Rebel and was following up from a recent win at Pontefract, plenty of options will be open for him while he’s in this rich vein of form and a trip down the Goodwood as part of the huge contingent that he always sends down south each year may be in order, one horse who caught the eye back in third was Atty Persse who was making his seasonal debut here, he ran well in the race and should come on loads for this. 

Rainbow Rebel

Haydock’s other big race was the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks over 1m4f which looked a decent enough renewal albeit not quite full of top middle distance class fillies and mares. 

Just like in the Old Newton Cup the judge was needed with the magnifying glass in the end giving the casting vote to Horseplay under David Probert from the Andrew Balding yard by a short head from last months Pinnacle winner God Given. 

God Given set out to make all under Jamie Spencer and had plenty of them under pressure as they came to the business end of the race, in the last furlong she began to be ridden and got headed in the final half furlong but stuck to the task very well. 

Horseplay certainly came to table with decent form in the book, runner up in the Middleton on her season debut at York behind Coronet who went on to be second in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, she has certainly added a bit more to her paddock value here, connections have some fair options for her such as the Lily Langtree at Goodwood and the Grosser Preis Von Baden in Germany plus she has a Yorkshire Oaks entry and that could also be an option depending how the return of Enable goes. 

Mark Johnston was also off to a winning start in the first race this afternoon as Making Miracles under top course jockey Richard Kingscote hacked up in the opening staying handicap over 1m6f and clearly benefited from the step up in distance after being mid division over 1m4f at Royal Ascot recently, one obvious target after this would be the Melrose at York and maybe a return back to Haydock for the Old Borough Cup here in September also being a gelding a fair owners from the jumping world may be thinking about waving the cheque books out. 

Two other races that caught the eye were the 6f sprints, the first one a Conditions Stakes was taken pretty easily by Mythmaker as he reversed course form with Intisaab who beat him by a neck back here in May, this is his level of racing for sure and he gives his all in them. 

The second one was a fine performance by the Richard Hannon trained Buridan who breezed home in the 6f handicap in the style of an improving horse as he clearly is a ahead of his winning mark of 85 and his owners Al Shaqab have a top sprinter in the making here and after the Eclipse success of Roaring Lion earlier on this will have added a little bit extra in the celebrations. 

A top notch day of racing then at Haydock, next up we we venture off to Yorkshire for a Friday and Saturday diet of racing at Pontefract and Ripon so expect a nice “Best Of” from what is always a nice couple of days over the border!

Till then it’s goodbye.