A thin crowd, braving an equally thin wind, marked Market Rasen’s first meeting of 2015 on Thursday.
The opening race, the John Deane Novices hurdle, saw nine runners go to post in what was the largest field of the afternoon.
It was won by a class act, the 6/4 favourite Kilcrea Vale who won easing down by 26 lengths. Jockey Jeremiah McGrath would have needed binoculars looking back to see his rivals.
The Nicky Henderson trained five-year-old joined the top trainer’s Lambourn stable in May after impressing on his Irish point debut. Class certainly oozed out of his performance here. Market Rasen handler Michael Chapman saddled Dontupsettherythem and Scamblesby trainer Steve Gollings gave Deficit his hurdling debut. Both finished down the field.
Champion jockey AP McCoy, in fine form of late, was on 9/2 shot Rayak in the second race the Leaping Deere Handicap. Rayak has a 0-14 record of wins and the duck was not broken this time.
The race produced another runaway winner in Favourite Girl (3/1). The distance this time was 18 lengths and the winner had Jonathan England up. McCoy had to settle for second, not something he does lightly, but he was not to have to wait long for a win. The winner is trained at Newark by Michael Appleby.
The first of two feature races was the Deere Run Handicap Hurdle and NoNo Mac (4/1) under Leighton Aspell was an impressive winner. His Cotswold trainer Charlie Longson has a decent record as a trainer at the course. Steve Gollings has seen his Make me a Fortune win twice at the course recently and he was sent off at 100/30 with plenty of local money on him. He jumped well and was up with them all the way but after tiring on the soft ground had to settle for third on the run in.
Gollings was not too disappointed: “He is locally owned and has won two hurdles recently.
“That has put him up in the weights. It was a long way in testing ground with his penalties. He will go chasing sooner rather than later now.”
The fourth race, the feature £6,500 Nothing Runs like a Deere Handicap Chase, saw odds on favourite Big Water win in what turned out a two horse race, even though only four ran.
Lucky Landing (7/1) is fond of this track and gave the winner a run for his money. Big Water (4/7f) had McCoy on board and he brought his mount through from three out to continue his excellent form in the saddle, easing home by 6 lengths.
Big Water won twice on heavy ground at Carlisle late in 2014 and he seems to be progressing nicely and clearly goes best on testing ground.
Top weight Kingcora, a 5/1 shot, won the Jockey Club Grassroots Jumps Series Qualifier and was pushed hard by the favourite Canuspotit under Aspell. The winner trained by Venetia Williams had Callum Williams up and is another with a liking of heavy ground.
The Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at the bottom of the card saw 5/4 favourite Steel Summit continue his excellent form. He won easing up at Doncaster a week ago and here defied a double penalty to make it six wins in the last two months.
The next meeting at Market Rasen is on Tuesday February 3.