Two of the richest races in the country were staged at Market Rasen Racecourse on Saturday – and they were also two of the most dramatic.
The 188Bet Summer Hurdle and the 188Bet Summer Chase carried £90,000 in prize money, and headlines were made in the chase by trainer Peter Bowen in what was very much a family affair, containing both triumph and disaster.
The Bowen family have a 20-year association with the course, and particularly Summer Plate Day.
This year Sean Bowen is the Market Rasen Young Ambassador and he had the ride on the Irish-bred More Bucks, while younger brother James was on Wadswick Court who was just touched off by Alcala in this race a year ago.
Sam Twiston-Davies was on the latter as he went for a repeat win.
Wadswick Court sadly suffered a fatal fall on the first circuit, with rider James thankfully uninjured.
By the final fence, the race looked a two-horse battle between More Bucks (6/1) and Two Many Diamonds (7/1), trained by Nick Skelton, top trainer at Market Rasen in the past 12 months.
The Bowen horse managed to get up by half-a-length under a fierce challenge from his rival to give the family their most treasured prize for the sixth time.
Peter was too concerned for Jamie and his mount’s welfare to lead his own winner in, and the honour fell to long-serving stable hand Alan Roderick.
It proved a unique win as the horse was owned, trained and ridden by the Bowen family.
“It was nice to get the win,” Sean said. “Fair play to my horse he jumped brilliantly and got his head down on the run-in.”
The Summer Hurdle was a more straightforward affair, won after a terrific front-running performance by L’Inganno Felice, ridden by Ross Chapman.
Trained by Iain Jardine in Carrutherstown, the eight-year-old had shown some form over both hurdles and on the flat after completing a hat-trick in novice company over the smaller obstacles prior to this, his first handicap outing.
There was a two-and-a-half-length winning margin from Fair Mountain, ridden by Harry Skelton for his trainer brother Dan, who chased the winner all the way.
This was the biggest win so far in the career of young jockey Chapman.
“He is a big horse and runs well at the front,” the delighted jockey said. “The two miles of good ground helped him today.”
The crowd was estimated at 10,000 by course officials with the July event having become the racecourse’s flagship day.
Racecourse chairman Tommy Cooper said: “It is always heartening to hear trainers speaking all through the summer about targeting their horses at our big races and I thank all the connections for their support which ensures we have two terrific features.”
Credit also went to the course ground staff for producing excellent ground for racing, the course being an oasis of green in the semi-desert landscape of our summer.