It was a day to remember for Brigg trainer Nick Kent as he toasted a winner, a second and a third at Market Rasen Racecourse’s showpiece meet.
It doesn’t get any better than that for Lincolnshire trainers these days, competing against the top yards, and Boxing Day at Market Rasen was no different as the leading yards had their share of winners.
But for a local story there was nothing to beat Kent’s Christmas fairytale.
He saddled two runners in the final race, a Class 5 Novices Hurdle, in Oregon Gold, a winner last time out, and the veteran 11-year-old Bowie who has lost a bit with age.
The winner was sent off at 11/2, with Bowie in second at 14/1 for a stunned Kent.
A bumper festive crowd enjoyed some competitive racing on the day with the going described as good to soft on the hurdles course, and soft on the chase course.
The £20,000 Class 3 Clugston Lincolnshire National provided another highlight, as always at the festive meeting.
The going provided a gruelling test for this three-mile three-furlong chase.
Ange Des Malberaux (14/1) won, with leading lady rider Bridget Andrews up top.
The opening race, the Rand Farm Park Selling Handicap Hurdle was easily won by Minella Fiveo, trained by veteran Bingley handler Sue Smith, the wife of famous former show jumper Harvey, with Kane Yeoman on board.
The second race, the APM Commercials Novices Hurdle, saw Nick Kent saddle the first of his runners, five-year-old Time is Honey (40/1).
A point winner in Ireland, and owned locally by Lincolnshire Tyres, he ran a superb race and led them into the straight, staying on well to finish third.
War Brigade was first past the post for trainer Ian Williams and jockey Tom O’Brien.
The horse had enjoyed some decent form on the flat, but this was only his second race over hurdles.
Kent said: “Time is Honey ran really well, better than expected, and to finish third in a decent race like that was really encouraging.
“We could not quite stay with the winner though after the last.”
The best though was yet to come for the popular local handler.
For the Garthwest Chase, Michael Chapman brought L’es Freemantle from his Woodlands yard in Market Rasen.
A fourth place, a second and a win at his local course has put the seven-year-old under a little more scrutiny than when he caught punters cold by winning at 80/1 in November. This was not his day, however, in a much better race.
Leading trainer Dan Skelton had Bridget Andrews on board top weight Bennys King (11/8f).
He looked good when winning at Chepstow on his first outing of the season, and backed that up at Rasen with an easy win.
Looking back on a successful year, chairman of Market Rasen Racecourse, Tommy Cooper said: “We are lucky we are able to race throughout the year.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us through the year.
“We are very aware that alongside good action on the track, good facilities are crucial for an enjoyable day at the races.”