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Pontefract offering total prize-money in excess of £1 million for new season

Pontefract managing director Norman Gundill : "We're absolutely chuffed to bits"
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Pontefract is vowing to do "everything we possibly can" for owners and is set to offer total prize-money within £150,000 of its 2019 level this year.

But managing director Norman Gundill admitted that uncertainty over when spectators would return and in what numbers had made budgeting for this season, which begins with the first of 16 meetings on Tuesday, harder than he has ever known.

"We've got our prize-money up just under £1.1million," he said. "That compares to £1.23m in 2019, so we're not far off that.


Tuesday's Pontefract card and betting


"We're absolutely chuffed to bits with that and I hope it demonstrates to owners that we're doing everything we possibly can to help them. 

"As always, we do everything we can to put as much as we can into prize-money and run as good a programme as we can. It was very difficult last year but we're able to do that this year."

The first of the track's five Listed races is the £40,000 Sky Bet Pontefract Castle Stakes on June 20, the day before all restrictions on social contact are due to be lifted.

The first Listed race of the year at the course is the Pontefract Castle Stakes in June

"The government keep saying all restrictions are off on June 21 but there seems to be a general view that it won't necessarily be open sesame and everybody can flood in,” Gundill said.

"We don't know whether there will be some restrictions but we will do everything we can to maintain the prize-money budget we have worked out. 

"The EBF and the sponsors have been incredibly loyal and our Levy Board payments are good. Our personal contribution is not the same as it was in 2019 because we've been careful as to what we think we may get from spectators.”

Prize-money levels have dropped considerably at some other courses but Gundill said: "We're very careful with our budgeting. We learned a lot last year as to what expenditure we could cut out. In the winter we've made every use of furlough.

"I'm a child of the war, I was born in 1942 and my granny used to say 'Waste not, want not. Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.' Consequently, whenever we do our budgets we err on the safe side with everything."

But one unavoidable expense ahead of Tuesday's resumption was investment in a new public address system.

"The system that RaceTech have replaced was installed in the 1970s and it had begun to fail and was not up to current BHA requirements,” Gundill said.

"We've had to find money to do that because you have got to have a proper system under the Safety Of Sports Grounds Act."


Read more on the prize-money issue:

More prize-money for placed horses in Britain as of Saturday

'Ferraris against Fords' - why we need more prize-money to compete with Ireland

Royal Ascot prize-money bounces back to £6 million after Covid-19 downturn

Scottish Grand National prize-money set at 'highest possible level'


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I hope it demonstrates to owners that we're doing everything we possibly can to help them

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