Market Rasen Racecourse brought down the curtain on 2015 with a packed Boxing Day meeting before a crowd of more than 8,000.
The feature race of the afternoon was the Clugston Lincolnshire National, the fourth race on the card, and it was a big afternoon, too, for jockey James Banks who had a treble, including the afternoon’s two big races on horses saddled by Devon trainer Dai Williams.
The National field included last year’s winner Soudain, and the runners went to post anticipating a real test of stamina in the heavy going brought on by heavy rain over preceding days.
The race, held over three miles and three furlongs with 19 fences to jump, is the longest of the year at the course.
Market Rasen trainer Michael Chapman brought The Society Man across the Willingham Road from his Woodlands yard.
But with a record of one win from 49 starts, and that over hurdles, it was hard to see him delivering the goods over the bigger obstacles in such testing conditions.
Strongly fancied was Not a Bother Boy who was bidding to make it four wins on the trot. He is trained by Yorkshire handler Sue Smith who has an excellent record at Market Rasen.
But despite a gallant effort he was beaten by six lengths by West of the Edge (14/1) with jockey James Banks getting his second big winner for Williams.
“This is a race we had wanted to win for a long time,” Williams said. “It’s a good race to win at Christmas time.
“West of the Edge was always coming here. We might now take him to Catterick for the Yorkshire National and try to make it a double.”
The fist win for Williams and Banks came with Ballyadeen (16/1) in the £7,900 Garthwest Novices Chase.
Williams added: “He fell at Ffos Las last time out last week. He is a big striding horse that needs confidence.”
The opening race of the festive meet was the Mount and Minster Chartered Surveyors Selling Handicap Hurdle and it saw a win for 16/1 shot Vertueux.
Chapman sent out Monzino who finished down the field, while Brigg trainer Nick Kent, who had a winner at the last meeting, saddled the fancied Skyfire (8/1) who showed up well until three out. Stamina is not his strong point, however, and the eight-year-old finished down in fifth.
Banks completed his treble on Chankillo (7/1), trained by Sarah-Jane Davis, in the fifth race of the day.
Market Rasen Racecourse chairman Colin Booth had time to reflect on a hugely successful 2015 at the course and to have the last word:
“We have had some major changes including a new chief executive in Nadia Gollings.
“We’ve had some fantastic crowds, including today, and at our big summer meetings.
“We are grateful to all of the team here and, of course, to racegoers for their support. A happy new year to everyone!”