A small crowd might just have caught a glimpse of real quality at Thursday’s meeting at Market Rasen Racecourse.
A year ago at the same meeting Captain Cutter was the second winner of a treble landed by champion jockey Tony McCoy.
Trained by top trainer Nicky Henderson, the winner went on to land the Grade 1 Challow Novices Hurdle at Newbury a month later. That race is the highest class and profile hurdle race in the pre-Christmas National Hunt calendar.
So could an impressive run at Market Rasen in this year’s equivalent race, the second on the card also produce a future champion. The 2014 running of the 32Red Novices Hurdle was certainly won again by a class horse and racecourse presenter at Market Rasen Mike Vince, who knows more than a thing or two about the form book, had no doubts this year’s winner Warrantor (3-1) might also be one to go on to bigger things.
The Warren Greatrex trained five-year-old, who was top weight and carrying a penalty, had Gavin Sheehan on board. He followed up a win at Chepstow last month in impressive style to win here by six lengths.
Local trainers had success at the meeting. In the final hurdle at the bottom of the card Scamblesby trainer Steve Gollings saw his Make Me a Fortune come home through the gloom. The 11/8 favourite won by a convincing 8 length margin with Trevor Ryan up.
Two other local trainers in Michael Chapman and Nick Kent have two from their yards who have been running very gamely of late.
The Society Man (9/1) only had to cross the road from the Woodlands stables of Michael Chapman. He has been a consistent sort in 2014 and here he was a gallant third behind the impressive Royal Palladium (5/4f) under Aiden Coleman in the 32Red Novices Limited Hurdle. Chapman acknowledged that the Venetia Williams trained winner was too good, but undaunted, he is heading for Cheltenham on Friday.
The Society Man will, according to his boss, will relish the challenge.
“The owner’s daughter is going to celebrate her birthday. The owners are the important people in racing, they pay the bills! He is entered in a two and a half mile conditional jockey’s race and will be nicely in the handicap. It should not be too hard a race.
“We are always made welcome at Cheltenham so we are looking forward to the day out. The distance should suit. This (at Market Rasen) was a bit far and he tired. It was too soft for him but he ran well,” said Chapman.
Jockey Joe Cornwall, who claims a 5lb allowance, will again be on board just as he was on Thursday’s card, and he admitted, rather mud splattered, from the winner’s enclosure that the horse had given him “a great run.”
Chapman and Cornwall accepted that Royal Palladium was a bit too good here following up an impressive win at Ludlow, defying a penalty for that success with this his third win in a row.
Nick Kent trains the very useful Around a Pound at his Newstead Yard near Brigg and the nine-year-old has proved how game he is several times at his local track. Here, sent off at 17/2, he had to settle for second behind another impressive winner in the Irish bred Minella Bliss, who followed up on two impressive recent seconds with a first chase win.
The 32 Red Casino Handicap Chase chase was the longest of the afternoon. The winner was on a good mark and did not make an error, but Around a Pound was always well placed and stayed on well under Henry Brooke for a very creditable second.
All eyes turn now to Boxing Day when a packed crowd is sure to enjoy what is always a very traditional Lincolnshire occasion.