Skelton has final say in big race

Listen to the Man (left) with Ian Popham on board, winner of the Class 1 Listed Hurdle, with beaten favourite Red Tornado and James Bowen in the parade ring. EMN-170210-090404002
Listen to the Man (left) with Ian Popham on board, winner of the Class 1 Listed Hurdle, with beaten favourite Red Tornado and James Bowen in the parade ring. EMN-170210-090404002

The Prelude Raceday is always a highlight in the racing calendar at Market Rasen, and the 2017 edition was no exception with two listed races the features of the card.

It was no surprise the Class 1 £35,000 hurdle was won by trainer Dan Skelton who has earned himself a reputation over the last year in producing big race winners at the course.

Skelton had clearly targeted the race and his Red Tornado was sent off the 7/2 favourite, while Late Night Lily was also strongly fancied as the ride of Dan’s brother, and stable jockey, Harry.

The latter fell with Harry thankfully getting to his feet, and Red Tornado ran unplaced.

But the Skeltons had the last laugh as the race was won by the third horse from the Alcester stable – the outsider of the three at 20/1 – Listen to the Man, ridden by Ian Popham.

Leading from the front, the seven-year-old responded to Popham’s tactics in fine style.

“I was delighted the tactics paid off, said Popham. “The horse jumped really well.

“I was able to take a breather with her as we entered the final bend. She is really tough and entering into the straight she got going again.

“I suppose I was fortunate to be on the right ride today, but it sets me up for the season ahead.”

The presentations were made by Geoff Hill, of Rase Distribution.

The feature chase was the Class 1 188bet.co.uk Prelude Handicap Chase with a total prize fund of £50,000.

A field of 13 went to post and it was 10/1 shot Ballybolley, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, who won impressively by four lengths.

The horse was unlucky at Uttoxeter in May, falling when well placed, and then found the Galway Plate too competitive, but he bounced back well here, jumping impressively.

Skelton’s seven-year-old Work in Progress was sent off the 4/1 favourite, but unlike at last year’s Summer Plate meeting, the impressive young trainer could not complete a double.

Work in Progress had won four out of his five starts this season, but was a disappointment here.

Trainer James Eustace saddled Apache Song (5/1), ridden to victory in impressive style by Jack Quinlan in the day’s second race, a mares’ novices hurdle.

Eustace said: “The horse has been working well, we liked the pedigree when we bought her.

“She hit the front today a bit sooner than we expected. The track is fantastic here and the facilities for everyone are first class. We love coming here and have a good record.”

The one local trainer with a runner was Nick Kent who brought Bowie up the road from his Newstead stables.

A previous winner over course and distance, the 10-year-old finished third in the sixth race, a Class 4 Handicap Hurdle.

The next meeting at Market Rasen is the Gentleman’s Raceday on Saturday, October 21.