L’es Freemantle has to settle for second

L'es Freemantle with Philip Armson up, reaches the winners's enclosure after running second in the third race.
L'es Freemantle with Philip Armson up, reaches the winners's enclosure after running second in the third race.

Thursday’s County Raceday at Market Rasen attracted a modest crowd and some equally small fields.

In two weeks’s time more than 8,000 are expected to pack the course for the Boxing Day meeting, but last week the crowd was reportedly around the 900 mark.

Michael Chapman’s L’es Freemantle again attracted the attention of local racegoers.

In the third race on the card, the Starsports Bet Class 5 Handicap Chase, there was prize money of almost £8,000 available.

As the field approached two out it seemed as though the seven-year-old local horse might clean up again.

But a sluggish jump at the penultimate fence saw the horse stand up a bit, and from taking the lead approaching the last it was all about Helium (8/1) who had got upsides and soon overtook the local horse.

L’es Freemantle, also 8/1, could not catch the one in front and so had to settle for a gallant second, four and a half lengths adrift of the winner when the post arrived.

The winner had plenty of gas left in the tank for the run in and eased up as the post approached.

An interesting name in the saddle in the sixth race was Jonjo O’Neill jnr, son of Jonjo O’Neill.

His mount was the promising five-year-old The Manuscript and he won by a length in the Handicap Hurdle.

Modest form previously made the horse go off at a decent price of 7/2 in the 11-horse race.

He carries, of course, a name to remember in that his father is one of the most famous and respected names in racing, both as a trainer and former jockey.

Whether it remains of great help or a possible handicap will be seen in due time.

Only two favourites won on the afternoon.

Daryl Jacob rode the highly-interesting odds-on Adjali to victory in the opening Juvenile Hurdle. The three-year-old reached a good level on the flat in the spring in France and this was his British debut after moving to Nicky Henderson’s yard.

General Custard followed up a win at Warwick in October with a second and a third in his subsequent races.

Here the six-length margin was pretty convincing in what was a six horse race over the smaller obstacles.