Pontefract: stages eight races over at least two miles and one furlong
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
By David Ashforth 6:00PM 2 OCT 2016
WHICH jockey, riding on Monday, was co-author of an article titled “Structure of a C. perfringens Enterotoxin Mutant in Complex with a Modified Claudin-2 Extracellular Loop2”?
If you don’t know the answer you may still have noticed that Quest For More won the Qatar Prix du Cadran over almost two and a half miles at Chantilly on Saturday. Like the Ascot Gold Cup, the Prix du Cadran gets a lot of attention but if it’s staying races you want, the place to go is Pontefract.
Granted, Royal Ascot also has the two and a half mile Ascot Stakes and the longest race in the calendar, the Queen Alexandra Stakes over two miles five furlongs and 159 yards but that only makes three.
Pontefract’s got eight races over at least two miles and one furlong. Quality-wise, they are not quite on a par with their celebrated peers, none of the first seven races in the eight-round Pontefract Stayers’ Championship being open to horses rated above 85 but at least you don’t have to wait all year for them.
Champ back for more
The longest, the Pontefract Marathon in April, is two miles five furlongs and 122 yards. I suggest that they add another 38 yards to put the Queen Alexandra in the shade. Round 7 of the series (3.30) features last year’s champion Tuscan Gold, rated 62, and the 2013 champion and likely winner of this year’s championship, Riptide, rated 67.
Riptide is an unlikely champion, the 10-year-old’s most recent win being 18 races and over two years ago but what he lacks in victories Riptide makes up for with attempts. He hasn’t missed a single race in this year’s stayers’ series and two runner-up spots and a fourth translate into 15 points, three ahead of absentee American Life, five clear of Madam Lilibet and six ahead of Tuscan Gold and Medina Sidonia, who won the last round.
The final round in a fortnight is a conditions race likely to attract more exalted stayers and the owner, trainer and stable staff of the champion each get £1,500. The big questions today, as well as where will Riptide finish, are how hard will Joey Haynes have to work on Madam Lilibet (probably very hard) and will Monjeni make a huge effort to please connections (probably not)?
All is revealed
The answer to the earlier question, as any reader of the September 9 2014 edition of the Journal of Molecular Biology will know, is Tannya Bagoban, who rides Pharoh Jake in the amateur riders’ race at Windsor (5.20).
Although the race is not specifically for novice riders, eight of the 16 have yet to ride a winner under Rules and have had only 24 rides between them.
Ryan Withey is making his debut while Graham Gilbertson last appeared in 2006. At the other end of the experience scale are the accomplished trio of Simon Walker (110 Flat winners from 581 rides), Ross Birkett (23 from 214) and Patrick Millman (19 from 202). It might be worth bearing in mind when pondering the puzzle.