The event is now a regular annual feature in the Pontefract programme, and has regularly “pulled” a good crowd in to give the once over to colts and fillies both equine and human. Clerk of the course Richard Hammill acknowledged that the event had not yet proved the catalyst to marriage, but added, “We have had quite a few local people have relationships for a little while.”
Tonight it’s red stickers to show hands off, I’m taken, orange for those who are open to offers, and numbered green ones for those definitely up for something. Whilst Hammill hopes that plenty of people will be confident enough to make an opening move for someone who catches their eye, there’s a contingency plan in place for those a bit shy about doing so.
In what the Pontefract and Castleford Express describes as the Love Zone Marquee, to the strains of the Steve Love Band and Dixie’s Dating Disco, suitors will be able to leave a note for potential partners with the number of their sticker on a message board. There’s even the promise, or perhaps threat, of local radio DJ Dixie reading some of them out.
There certainly won’t be the same horrified reaction the last time a racecourse issued racegoers with coloured stickers. That was done at Ascot in January 2012 to shame people who failed to comply with a new dress code. It led to an unreserved apology from head of PR Nick Smith, and the course refunding some £28,000 to customers in the premier enclosure.
If tonight goes well and leads to the first proposal, it’s to be hoped that Richard Hammill’s name appears on the wedding guest list.
Oh, and the racing starts at 6.20.