Glamor returns to the Pontefract racecourse for the last meeting

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Two-year-old Hamaki wins an exciting final for the William Haggas team at Pontefract Ladies’ Day. Photo: Alan Wright

Stilettos, hats and fascinators were the order of the day as Yorkshire ladies dressed to impress for a chance to win the coveted Best Dressed Woman contest for the top prize of a stay all inclusive at the fantastic RIU Cancun resort in Mexico.

The first 500 runners through the Premier Enclosure entrance were greeted with a glass of champagne to start their day off right although the weather did not play its part with torrential thunderstorms throughout the afternoon .

The coveted best dressed competitions took place before the race and the Heart Angels were on hand to select 100 ladies and 20 men for their finals. This was the sixth year that RIU Hotels & Resorts had sponsored the best dressed competitions and they presented another spectacular prize to the winning lady and finalist, Leesa Smickersgill taking the crown.

Lasting Legacy takes the lead for jockey PJ McDonald, in the bet with Jayne Bookmaker Handicap on a wet Pontefract racetrack. Photo: Alan Wright

As for today’s races, as the rain fell the ground gradually became softer but there were some sparkling performances including a double for the coach / jockey combination of Tim Easterby and Duran Fentiman.

Eight-year-old Mikmak has stepped back through the years in the veterans’ 1m handicap, taking on fit rivals. He has already been rated much higher and is undoubtedly quite handicapped now that he is in poor health again.

The double came when East Street Revue won the Chaplins Club Handicap on 5f from course specialist Van Gerwen who won on the track in July.

The main race was tiesplanet.com’s handicap over 2m and Brian Ellison’s Tashkhan was a hot order to take the plunge in his stride after his impressive success in the precious Bet365 Handicap at Haydock last month.

But he had no answer to Prince Imperial, owner of Highclere Thoroughbred, who ran every yard of the race under a grand lap from 5-pound contender Tyler Heard for jockey turned trainer Richard Hughes.

The rain made the two-year-old EBF Maiden work hard on 6f, but 14 went to the post and it was Hamaki who just won in an exciting finish for team William Haggas.

Not placed in a hot race at Newbury, Churchill’s son enjoyed the trip and rating down and was a brave winner under Dougie Costello for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Suede, whose familiar double green silks are more associated with National Hunt horses than with their flat counterparts.

The opening race was a handicap for amateur gentlemen riders, and Richard Fahey enlisted the services of Eireann Cagney for his Johnny Boom, who held firm uphill despite reservations about his ability to act on the ground.

The Fahey team rarely leaves empty-handed from a trip to Pontefract.

As the rain had a deeper impact, some trainers decided their horses would not be suitable for the monsoon conditions and Bet with Jayne Bookmaker’s handicap was reduced to just five riders with Chris Fairhurst’s Lasting Legacy in the lead for jockey PJ McDonald.

The four-year-old had only won once on turf, but had decent form on softer ground and showed great tenacity to get up in the finals under welterweight from 10 stones.

The final race saw a battle of a few familiar names from Ponte as Round The Island and Mr Orange lined up again. However, there was a poignant victory for Team Harvey Bastiman following the death of his sister Rebecca earlier in the year when their Dark Defender bravely fought off all the challengers to win by ¾ length.

There was a lengthy investigation by the marshals after the race as the winner caused interference with runner-up Zumurud, but the marshals felt the result was unaffected and allowed the standings to remain.

The next Pontefract race meeting is the last Family Day of the year on Sunday. Tickets sell out quickly, and with some capacity limits in place, racing fans are encouraged to book online in advance to avoid disappointment. Limited tickets will be available the same day, but once capacity is reached the doors will be closed.

Further information is available on their website at www.pontefract-races.co.uk

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