A sell-out crowd crammed into Market Rasen Racecourse as it hosted its biggest races of the year at the Betfred Summer Plate and The Journal Ladies’ Day.
Highlights of the day were the Class 1 £28,000 Betfred Summer Plate Chase and the Class 1 Betfred TV Summer Hurdle.
The 2014 Chase winner Its a Gimme had to cope with a change of jockey after being ridden to victory 12 months ago by the 20-time champion jump jockey Tony McCoy. This time it was his successor Barry Geraghty in the saddle who started riding for Irish racehorse owner JP McManus earlier this month.
The racecourse was close to capacity as a quality field of 15 went to post.
As well as It’s A Gimme, trainer Jonjo O’Neill also entered last year’s runner-up Lost Legend in the feature contest.
Other eye-catchers included rookie trainer Dan Skelton’s Pumped Up Kicks, and Valco De Touzanne who is trained by Paul Nicholls and had Sam Twistan-Dvies on board.
But it was the Keith Reveley-trained Brave Spartacus who showed them all a clean pair of heels.
James Reveley was on board the nine-year-old whose previous form had not put him among the fancied horses.
Dan Skelton also targeted the £35,000 Betfred TV Summer Hurdle with the strongly-fancied Hurricane Hollow, who had Harry Skelton in the saddle.
Last year’s winner Purple Bay did not attempt to reclaim his title, but in-form trainer John Ferguson had other fancied runners in Commissioned and Buckwheat, a listed winner on the flat.
However, the 2014 Grand National winning trainer Richard Newland and jockey Will Kennedy teamed up to claim Market Rasen’s biggest hurdle prize of the year as Grand Maestro (16/1) just got up and was given the verdict in a photo finish over Hammersley Lake.
Kennedy said: “The race went much as I had hoped, but we were in front quite early.
“He likes right-hand tracks and he jumped so well. He gave me a great ride.”
The Juvenile Hurdle which opened the card was won impressively by five lengths by Retro Valley with Noel Fehily on board.
Useful on the flat, this was his hurdles bow under trainer David Dennis.
Sea Lord (2/1 joint favourite) claimed the second race, a Handicap Hurdle.
The eight-year-old was a fine second over the smaller obstacles at Aintree in May, but fell over fences last time at Perth. In form trainer John Ferguson had Aiden Coleman in the saddle, and it may be that hurdles suit the winner more than fences.
* Turn inside for more pictures.