There may have been some small fields, but there was plenty of competitive racing as Market Rasen staged its first meeting of 2014. All the races were sponsored by Calverts Carpets of York.
The feature race of the card was the fourth race, the £6,498 Class 3 Handicap Chase. It turned out to be an easy win for the 11/4 shot Firth of the Clyde, a nine-year-old, trained at Malton by Malcolm Jefferson, who had Brian Hughes on board. The lightly raced Clyde has improved since going chasing and clearly acts on soft ground. The win here was made easing down and in having to defy a 7lb rise in the weights after a win at Wetherby last time out.
It meant a double for Jefferson and Hughes, who had combined in the opener with Enchanted Garden (8/1). The six-year-old won the Novices Handicap on his hurdles debut and showing form in bumpers under rules and a win when landing a two-mile flat race in June were indications the horse could transfer his ability to the smaller obstacles.
“He is not a very big horse but stayed on well, he hit a few hurdles on the way round and his wins on the flat and in bumpers were useful,” said Jefferson from the winner’s enclosure.
Jefferson’s double indicated how well horses in the north east are doing at the moment, in a part of the country where the weather has been mild and not hit with heavy rain like other areas.
“The gallops have been fit at home and the horses are fit and well,” added the trainer.
In the second race, a handicap hurdle, Yorkist, the 11/8 favourite, was saddled by Brian Ellison, who also has a Malton yard. Apprentice Nathan Moscrop had the ride and the fact that the 7lb claiming jockey could take that weight off the horse’s back proved useful.
The favourite took the lead on the final bend and cantered home to win by 10 lengths. This was the third win on the trot since the horse had a wind operation, having scored twice at Wetherby.
Lamps (4/1) took the third race, a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle, squeezing up just ahead of Joanne One and Astogos after the three jumped the last together.
Tony McCoy was on board Joanne One, trained by Jamie Snowdon, and it was odds on that AP would produce one of those trademark driving runs to get his mount up. Josh Wall on Lamps had different ideas though and got his charge to find a little more speed on the run in. The horse’s career wins have, like this one, been on soft ground.
A three-mile chase at Chepstow last time was a bit far and that was his first run on a racecourse for a year. There is clearly more in the tank for this one. Trainer Michael Blake, whose yard is at Tonbridge in Kent, thought the long journey worthwhile.
“He has had four wins from seven, the ground was slow but he lasted the trip,” said the trainer.
The fifth race was another handicap chase and the class horse in the field was Ultimatum Du Roy, (11/10f) ridden by McCoy. The race proved an easy win over two-miles and six-furlongs for the six-year-old, who was a triple flat winner in France. Now trained by Alex Hales, the horse was third on soft ground in a better field at Newbury last time.
Main challenger here was Around a Pound, (6/1) trained at Brigg by Nick Kent, a game horse if ever there was one. Top jockey Jason Maguire had the ride on Kent’s horse, who was well placed two fences out, but McCoy’s charge was just too good.
Responding to the horse’s second place, Kent said: “I was pleased with the way he jumped.
“Jason put him to sleep for the first circuit and then got him going. McCoy’s horse was just too good for us.
“We took a chance with him, he puts up with heavy ground. It was good experience for the horse to have Jason on board.”