Badges through the decades

Brief History

I am grateful for the historical information provided by Pontefract racecourse.


A meeting was held in March in the vicinity of Pontefract Castle. The source of this was a letter written by Captain Baines, who was in charge of Cromwell’s Batteires which besieged the Castle. He questions whether he should enter his brothers grey mare in a race.


Mention is made of a meeting taking place on 5th October 1790 in the park roughly in the confines of the present racecourse.


Further evidence of a 3 day meeting taking place at Pontefract.


Members badges sold for 50 each, which allowed members entry to the course for the next 20 years. The finance enabled the first Grandstand to be built. Subscribers to the 50 scheme were issued with a silver ticket.


The Pontefract Cup is run for the first time and is won by Muly Moloch. In 4 of the first 5 runnings the winner is owned by Lord Darlington.


The Duchess wins the Gold Cup for the first time, repeating the success the next year, and triumphing in the St Leger.


Stapleton Hall, on the outskirts of Pontefract, is owned by Mr Petre, who also owns a horse called Agatha, the winner of the Pontefract Gold Cup.


A local hunt group at Badsworth organize a meeting on 29th March 1821.


Barefoot wins the Pontefract Cup and goes on to triumph in the St Leger.


Screwdriver wins the Pontefract Gold Cup.


Pontefract races are reported to be in decline by the Sporting Magazine. This is bad news for all of the ‘members’ who subscribed 50 and they threaten to dismantle the grandstand.


Part of the course, the North East corner, is lost when the railway is constructed. Work began in 1846 and the line was officially opened in 1849.


A new committee is formed and takes over the organization of Pontefract races.


A second Stand is built and opened on 1st July.


Pontefract 1967.JPG (13918 bytes)


The Corporation lease the ground on which the races are run to the racecourse committee. The management of the park is put in the hands of the Mayor, Alderman and Burgesses of the Borough of Pontefract.


No racing takes place because of the War.


The Pontefract Park Race Company is formed under the leadership of Major General Sir Loftus Bates.


Work on the new Grandstand is started.


New Grandstand is completed and opened.


Pontefract was one of only 2 Northern courses allowed to hold racing during the Second World War. The other was Stockton (Teeside Park). They raced on alternate Saturdays.


The substitute Ebor is run over 1 and a half miles  and is won by Yorkshire Hussar, owned by John Hetherton. It was a 4 year old carrying 8 st 7 lbs and defeated 18 rivals when ridden by G Littlewood.


Considerable alterations to the course once work on the M62 motorway begins. Adjustments are made to the 1 mile start, which altered the 6 furlong races and the 1 and 1 mile races.


Pontefract benefits from the installation of a new watering system.


A famous day in the history of the racecourse was in April when the course became oval in shape. It had previously been horseshoe shaped and meant that races up to 2 miles could not be run on the course. The ‘new’ course was opened by Sir Ian Trethowan on 6th April 1983 and measured 2 miles 125 yards, which makes it the longest continuous flat racing circuit in Great Britain.


The Club, Weighing Room and Kitchen areas are extended.


The Paddock area is extended; the Dalby Stand opened and the First Sunday meeting at Pontefract is staged on 13th August.


The Silver Stand is completely refurbished in 1999.

Pontefract 1978.JPG (11832 bytes)

Pontefract 1986.JPG (14117 bytes)

Pontefract 1996.JPG (10648 bytes)
Pontefract 1998.JPG (10302 bytes)