Date of Review: 11th April 2022

Address: Pontefract Park, Park Rd, Pontefract WF8 4QD

Website: www.pontefract-races.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PontefractRacecourse/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ponteraces

Email: Website Enquiry Form: https://www.pontefract-races.co.uk/

Phone: 01977 781307

Hotel Accommodation: https://uk.trip.com/hotels/pontefract-pontefract-racecourse/hotels-c34935m10819632/

Course Information: 

Track Layout: (Image: credited & acknowledged to At The Races)

Pontefract is an undulating, left-handed course with a circumference of approximately two miles. It has a sharp bend into the home straight with the final 3 furlongs being a stiff climb up hill which makes it testing. Due to the sharp turn into the short straight, it favours front running horses and has an emphasis on stamina rather than speed. There is no straight course. A low draw from the starting stalls can be highly favourable in certain races. Pontefract has the honour of being the longest continuous horse racing circuit in the UK.

Pontefract has a rich racing history and is one of the oldest racecourses in Europe, founded in 1648 in the times of Oliver Cromwell, when horse racing was held in the local meadows near the town. Racing was discontinued in 1769 and restarted in 1801 and have continued to this day. It was used for several major races during World War II when other courses were out of action. Traditionally, Pontefract began its first race at 2.45pm in the afternoon, so the miners from the local colliery were able to finish the early morning shift then attend the races. This practice remained in place until 2002 when the colliery was closed. It was the first racecourse in Britain to introduce a dope testing facility, and it introduced a photo finish facility in 1952. 

The Racecourse Advisor Guide to Pontefract Racecourse:

Course Access:

By Car: Pontefract Racecourse is conveniently situated just half a mile from Junction 32 of the M62. Links with the A1, M1 and M18 are all within 10 miles of the racecourse. Leaving J32 of the M62 (the Xscape junction), follow the signs for the Racecourse towards Pontefract town centre. The Racecourse is situated on the right-hand side of Pontefract Park.

By Rail: There are 3 railway stations in Pontefract - Monkhill, Baghill and Tanshelf. There is a fourth station at Glasshoughton which is by the Xscape complex which is a couple of miles from the Racecourse. Pontefract Tanshelf station is more or less opposite the entrance to the track, whereas Monkhill and Baghill are fairly centrally located in Pontefract and would be 2 to 3 miles from the course. When it comes to access by railway, you really couldn't ask for much more. Rating: 10/10.

Pricing: There are three enclosures at the course. £22.00 gets you entrance into the Premier Enclosure and £16.00 into the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure. There is also the Picnic Enclosure, which is a section near the home turn where cars can enter and park for £15.00 with a maximum of four people or £7.00 for an individual. There are concessions available for OAP's and Students, and under-18s are free. So a decent range of pricing / options depends on what facilities you would like to have on race days. Rating: 8/10.

Catering: As we both enjoy doing "racecourse reviews" and not restaurant reviews or pretending to be food critics, our aim is to just give you an overall idea of what culinary options are available at the track on race days.

There is more than good range and selection of catering options to suit all budgets and tastes here. There is the Park Suite in the Premier Enclosure, which offers a full corporate / hospitality option and has views overlooking the winning post. In the Main Stand is the Premier Dining Room, which offers your more traditional fare of Fish & Chips and Roast of the Day with chips (£8.95 each), Hot Dogs (£6.95), or a 'Yorkshire 'Street Special' of roast beef and caramelised onions Yorkshire pudding wrap with fries (£8.95). A cheeseburger with all the trimmings will set you back £8.95, and £2.00 will get you a portion of chunky chips. 

On the lower floor of the Dalby Stand is the Premier Sports Café Bar, which serves the usual selection of sandwiches, hot rolls, and cakes along with hot and cold drinks. A nice touch is the Pizza in the Paddock facility, which serves freshly cooked pizzas and craft ales to wash them down with. Each stand or enclosure has a selection of bars (the Furlong Bar and the Balcony Bar, etc.). We are pleased to report that there was a good old-fashioned fish & chip van that knocked out a more than decent portion for £10.00 and sausage & chips for £7.00. If that's not enough, then, as on virtually all Yorkshire racecourses, there is a traditional sweet shop. So there is absolutely no reason at all why you should leave this racecourse feeling hungry. Rating: 5/10.

Guinness Standard: £6.50 a pint. So fairly standard racecourse pricing. Rating: 7/10.

Viewing: The viewing here is good. Two quaint but decent sized stands, both of which offer covering from the elements should it be required, and also seating. Due to the layout of the track, there is some restricted viewing of the horses as they hit the back of the track around some trees. The sprint races are fine, where a full view of the whole race is possible. There is the obligatory large screen TV situated just before the winning post. Overall, the viewing is more than acceptable. We have seen a lot worse on our travels. Rating: 7/10.

Parade Ring / Winners Enclosure: This is located immediately at the back of the Main Stand and is of a good size. It has a separate enclosure for the winning horse and another for the placed horses. The pre-and-post race viewing is very good, with tiered steps and a couple of benches at the end. The only downside is that part of the parade ring is inaccessible due it placement next to a couple of other buildings. The saddling enclosure is located at the rear. Rating: 7/10.

Bookmakers / Betting Facilities: Numerous well located and convenient Tote betting facilities are around the track. The main ring is situated in front of the grandstand and has around 20 pitches. There is also a large William Hill betting facility located behind the grandstand. Rating: 9/10.

Friendliness of Course Staff: A great Yorkshire welcome and hospitality from the racecourse staff. Extremely cheerful and very helpful. Rating: 9/10.

Pros & Cons: We had very enjoyable days racing at Pontefract. It is a quaint and somewhat charming course, old but well maintained and well-kept. It is a very well-located racecourse that is very easy to find with good entry & exits, and plenty of free parking close to the racecourse main entrance. Pricing is more than reasonable, with a number of options to suit all pockets and budgets. Plenty of options are also on the catering front to suit all tastes and pockets. 

Plenty of bookmakers, Tote, and William Hill betting facilities are all over the course. Very friendly and helpful course staff are located at various points around the course. The viewing of races other than the sprints is slightly restricted due to the layout of the track and the large number of trees that cover the back straight. That said, a highly enjoyable day's racing was had, and we will most certainly return in the future. Rating: 8/10.

VIP Watch: No VIPs of any note were seen on the day.

Overall Dave & Ray rating: 7.7/10.

The full day's racing results can be found here: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/meeting/2022-04-11/pontefract/90030

Facilities & Location Layout of Pontefract Racecourse: (Image: credited & acknowledged to The Pontefract Park Racing Company)

Aerial View of Pontefract Racecourse: (Image: credited & acknowledged to Google Earth)

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