Racing again survived a morning inspection at Market Rasen Racecourse to go ahead for the 188BET meeting last Tuesday, writes Peter Thompson.
The course and sponsors offered a warm welcome to racegoers, but it was anything but warm, with the temperature remaining just above freezing on one of the coldest days of the winter.
Credit must go to the groundstaff for the maintenance of the hurdles and chase courses which seems to allow local meetings to go ahead when there are cancellations countrywide.
James Bowen is very much the rising star among young jockeys and he claimed the big race on the card, the Class 3 £10,000 National Hunt Novices Hurdle.
After Knight in Dubai had led for much of the way on the first circuit, the Dan Skelton-trained horse could not stay with them when the pace quickened and it was Burrows Edge and Bowen who stormed through from two out.
The five-year-old had barely touched a twig on the way round, so good was his jumping.
The horse had shown promise in bumpers and on his hurdling debut at Kempton when fourth of 12 runners, but that was over a shorter trip and here, being upped in distance, he clearly showed what he is capable of.
Bowen said: “Both the going and the step-up in trip suited and he jumped well.
“Moving to Mr Henderson’s yard has been a dream as it has given me some new opportunities.”
The jockey was the talk of experts and punters around the winner’s enclosure.
Racecourse presenter Mike Vince added: “What an impact this young man has made on the racing scene.
“He won the Welsh Grand National, and he is a Welshman.
“Just six weeks ago he claimed 7lb, now he has got that down to 3lb in no time at all. He is a really talented teenager and a lovely fellow as well.”
The other interesting race was the second on the card and the first chase of the afternoon.
This was won by the 5/2 favourite Stoical Patient, trained by Gary Moore at Horsham, in Sussex, and ridden by Jamie Moore.
Upon moving to his new yard he won on his first three starts so it was not surprising that he cleaned up here with such form behind him.
One familiar face was remembered at Market Rasen as it was the first meeting since the death of popular trainer Malcolm Jefferson the week before.
Racecourse chairman Tommy Cooper said: “Like everyone in racing, the Market Rasen team has been greatly saddened by the news of Malcolm’s death.
“He was a huge supporter of the track with a reputation for excellence which stretched way beyond his North Yorkshire base.”
The next meeting at Market Rasen is on Sunday.