There was a £12,700 feature race on the card at Market Rasen’s Friday meeting and it was claimed in impressive style by six-year-old Aso, trained by Venetia Williams.
The Weatherby’s Hamilton Graduation Chase Class Two race, run over two miles five furlongs and 14 fences, used to be run at Haydock and it was a feather in the cap for Rasen to stage it.
With Chepstow’s scheduled meeting cancelled in the wet weather, Aidan Coleman had the ride. Sent off as 2/1 favourite in the five-runner race, the winner looked well in control after jumping the second last, but idled on the run-in to give Ballyalton and Richard Johnson a second bite.
But Aso, second in his three previous races over fences, finally landed his first win and is sure to be one to watch.
Being high enough in the handicap, this race may be Aso’s high point for the season, rather than a coveted entry to the Cheltenham Festival in March.
An appropriately named winner came in the novices hurdle, the first race on the card, when 14 runners went to post.
Paddy’s Field (3/1), trained by Ben Pauling, was another who showed he could tackle the heavy ground. He was well-placed when falling late on at Uttoxeter last time out, and the six-year-old was fancied to get off the mark before long.
With Nico de Boinville up he made his mark two out, had a difficult landing at the last flight, but stayed on well.
Scamblesby-based Steve Gollings and Market Rasen handler Michael Chapman both saddled runners in this race, but Snow Prince, from the Gollings yard, and Chapman’s Duc De Seville were two of seven pulled up – a reflection of the ground.
* Heron’ Heir (2/1 favourite) claimed the Racing UK Winter Season Ticket Handicap Hurdle.
Soft ground is up his street and he battled well when far from fluent at the last flight, and he had to see off the challenge of Ourmanmassini on the run-in.
* The Handicap Chase which followed the feature race saw amateur rider Mr J. Martin, riding for trainer Andrew Martin.
His mount Sunny Legend made almost all to back up his Towcester win last time out, and he could possibly land another race before the handicapper steps in.
* It was the final meeting after four years for Clerk of the Course Jane Hedley who has taken up a similar post at Warwick.
A fond farewell was offered by the final race, the Thank-You and Farewell Jane Hedley Handicap Hurdle which was won by Salmanazar (10/1).
The course was also pleased to welcome Richard Farquar on the latest leg of his marathon effort ‘Walking the Courses’ in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK and Racing Welfare.
* The next meeting at Market Rasen is Tuesday, February 9.