Newstead trainer Nick Kent went close to a second success in a month at Market Rasen Racecourse as a 100-1 shot almost snatched a shock win.
Kent had an unforgettable end to 2016 when Gonalston Cloud stormed home to win the Clugston Lincolnshire National on Boxing Day.
And he almost began the new year in style when his five-year-old Picknick Park was beaten into a close third place in the eight-runner Class 4 Novices Hurdle.
Amateur rider T. Broughton had him well-placed throughout as the race went along went at a moderate gallop.
On the run-in, favourite Master of Irony (13/8) just came through to get up by two-and-a-half lengths under leading jockey Brian Hughes.
Winning trainer John Quinn said: “It’s never easy carrying a penalty. He warmed up well and was always well in.
“This was his third run in a short space of time so he will have a rest now.”
Supporters of Picknick Park collected their each-way winnings with pride, but they were few and far between.
Kent’s horse, which he jointly owns with Andy Parkin, had shown nothing in his four previous starts to merit support.
Connections of the winner were presented with their prizes by Year 8 students from De Aston School who were doing their maths lesson at the course as part of the Racing to School initiative.
The favourite also won the day’s second race, the ROA Racing Post Owners Jackpot Handicap Hurdle.
Wicked Willy (11/10) won at Huntingdon the previous Friday and proved he is a consistent sort with this follow-up victory.
The afternoon’s feature race was the Class 2 Wetherby’s Hamilton Graduation Chase with a total prize fund of £20,000.
Jockey Harry Skelton and brother Dan cleaned up with big prize money on Summer Plate Day here last July and they came up trumps again with a 7-2 shot Three Musketeers.
The seven-year-old won a big Grade 2 chase last season as well as a Grade 1 hurdle.
Scamblesby trainer Steve Gollings saddled Make Me A Fortune (7/1) in the fifth race.
A fair sort over hurdles, the nine-year-old had not shown up in the same way over fences in his career to date so this was a decent effort behind the Irish-bred Highbury High (9/2).
The next meeting at Market Rasen is on Tuesday, February 7.