Pontefract Racecourse Guide

Welcome to our official guide to Pontefract Racecourse. In this section we explore this racecourse in detail, looking at its history, a guide to the track, the major races, hotel picks, fixtures, travel information, betting guides and even the weather!

Pontefract Racecourse Guide

Overview

Pontefract Racecourse is an independently-owned flat race course in West Yorkshire, just a kilometre out of the historic market town of Pontefract.

Pontefract Racecourse hosts flat racing of thoroughbreds throughout the summer months. It’s very much considered a course for those already interested in horseracing, as it attracts some technically brilliant horses due to its focus on stamina over pure speed. Next to Wetherby, Pontefract Racecourse is one of just two horseracing courses in the county of West Yorkshire.

Indeed despite its small stature, Pontefract has sport running through its community veins. The town is home to the Featherstone Rovers, a professional rugby club, the Pontefract Collieries, a non-league football club, a well patronised swimming pool, Pontefract Rugby Union Club; and previously, two local cricket clubs.

Pontefract Racecourse is truly the jewel in the sporting crown of the town, boasting the title of the ‘longest continuous horseracing circuit in Europe’.

The circuit that has earned it the title of longest measures two miles and one hundred and twenty five yards, and is raced left-handed with considerable gradients with a stiff uphill finish. Local punters and those ‘in the know’ often watch from the point of the first furlong, as it’s downhill all the way to the start. Racing on the inside is a huge advantage, and those on the outside rarely race well unless the going is very soft.

Pontefract Racecourse is still owned by an independent company; Pontefract Park Race Company Ltd. The firm have invested heavily into the development of the course and as a result have brought it up to speed in terms of dining and hospitality options, accessibility, and facilities for jockeys and trainers.

Pontefract Racecourse isn’t the best known of racecourses in the UK, but it’s technically solid and showcases some outstanding talent.

Racecourse History

Historical documents record racing taking place in the Pontefract area as early as 1648 – but not much later than this, the local Castle was seized by Oliver Cromwell’s forces. Races continue to be held through changes in power in the meadows just outside the town but these seemed to have ended around 1769. Records show that horseracing then restarted in 1801 and by 1827, are described as ‘fashionably attended’ by townsfolk as well as though further afield.

Unlike most courses in the UK, Pontefract Racecourse remained open during World War II and hosted several substitute races that were unable to be raced elsewhere.

Pontefract Racecourse continued to go from strength to strength and in 1952 installed a photo finish, hitting headlines alongside its introduction of the first dope testing facility in the country. Pontefract’s course was originally a mile and a half horseshoe but closed briefly in 1983 to convert to a full circuit.

It was a long-term tradition for the course to start its afternoon races at 14:25 (later than most other courses in the country) to allow for miners at the colliery adjacent to finish their morning shift; but this tradition ended in 2002 when the colliery closed its doors for the final time.

Main Races and Events

The Pontefract Castle Stakes are arguably the most prominent race held at the course, held on a Sunday in June annually. The Stakes are open to fillies and mares aged four years or over and run over one mile, four furlongs and five yards. It’s still a fairly new race, having started to be run in 2005, and was originally open to horses of both genders before it was later restricted. It’s not uncommon for the Pontefract Castle Stakes to take place in front of a sell-out crowd. The most successful jockey at the Stakes thus far has been Harry Bentley, with two wins, and the most successful horse, Brown Panther, with two wins.

Racecourse Map

Pontefract Racecourse Map
Courtesy of At The Races

Racecourse Address

Pontefract Racecourse
Pontefract Park
Park Road
Pontefract
WF8 4PD.

How To Get To Pontefract Racecourse

Car parking at Pontefract Racecourse is free, with some spaces available to book in the Picnic Enclosure for £20 per vehicle. The course is situated just half a mile from Junction 32 of the M62, although connections from the A1, M1 and M18 are all within ten miles. Follow signs from Pontefract Park and turn left once there.

Local Metroline buses run to a stop just outside the course. Rail connections can be made to one of Pontefract’s three local stations – Monkhill, Baghill and Tanshelf. A further few miles away is the station at Glasshoughton, next to the Xscape Yorkshire complex. All are easily accessible by taxi from the course and run across several different mainlines.

Hotels near Pontefract Racecourse

Pontefract itself isn’t a large town but there are plenty of accommodation options locally for those looking to stay in the area. Closest to the course are The Barley Mow Hotel, The Kings Croft Hotel, The Premier Inn Castleford and The Tower House Executive Guest House.

For those looking for more chain name hotels, these can be found in nearby Wakefield, Barnsley, Leeds and Bradford.


Booking.com

What Are The Best Online Pontefract Betting Sites?

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Betting Shops Local to Pontefract Racecourse

Pontefract Racecourse has Tote kiosks throughout the venue, as well as several designated areas for independent bookmakers. Mobile signal is fine throughout the racecourse, so betting can be done online as required if preferred.

Betting shops in Pontefract town itself are perhaps surprisingly prevalent (and popular!) and include branches of William Hill, Betfred, Megabet and the independent Stan James Bookmakers.

Pontefract Racecourse Weather

Punters and race-goers love to keep up with the weather to predict going conditions, especially for Royal Ascot, as well as making sure what they wear is suitable. Here’s the current weather forecast for Pontefract:
PONTEFRACT WEATHER

Other Events

Pontefract Racecourse, despite being considered a tough and technical course, knows a thing or two about putting on a big show to attract a large crowd. Themed events catering for the community and those visiting the area include a Pensioners Pay Nothing Day, Disco Nights, Rugby League Takeovers, Family Days and a Beer Festival.

Pontefract Races

Summary

To come.

Other Racecourses

Our team as of August 2020 have reviewed the other following racecourses, all of them definitely worth a visit: