Brigg trainer Nick Kent had the most high-profile win of his career as 15/2 shot Gonalston Cloud won the £9,747 feature race at Market Rasen’s Boxing Day meet.
The nine-year-old was always up with the leaders in the Clugston Lincolnshire National Handicap Steeplechase, run over a stamina-sapping 3 miles 3 furlongs.
The top weight entry was brought through by jockey Adam Wedge to challenge by the last fence and stayed on to win by one-and-a-half lengths in impressive style.
Kent was delighted in the winners enclosure, a Lincolnshire man claiming the biggest prize of the festive meeting.
“We tried cheekpieces which helped him and he travelled well today,” Kent said.
“We had thought he liked softer going, but now we realise he needs better than that.
“He has won a decent race at Doncaster and also was a good second at Haydock. Top weight was an issue for us, but he ran really well.”
A packed crowd, estimated at 9,000, enjoyed a feast of festive racing, this year sponsored by The Rand Farm Park.
There were some decent fields for the seven races on the card over both hurdles and fences.
Other local trainers in Steve Gollings and Michael Chapman both had runners on the afternoon.
Gollings saddled Make me a Fortune, a decent hurdler who has yet to adapt to the bigger obstacles, in the fourth race.
The eight-year-old showed up well on the first lap before falling back.
Vinnie Red, trained at Cheltenham by Fergal O’ Brien, who had Paul Maloney on board, came through to win after barely touching a twig on the way round. This was a chase debut for the 2/1 favourite; a decent hurdler.
The opening race was the Lees of Grimsby Furnishers Selling Hurdle.
Swaledale Lad (6/1), trained by Richard Ford and ridden by Brian Harding, was a clear winner. The nine-year-old has shown form over both hurdles and fences and was clear by the last.
A photo finish saw jockey Ian Popham just get the 2/1 shot Bandsman up by a short head over 15/8 favourite London Prize in the Rand Farm Park Novices Hurdle.
The final meeting of 2016 also marked the last meeting for long-serving chairman of Market Rasen Racecourse, Colin ‘Bud’ Booth after 20 years at the course.
General manager Nadia Powell said: “Bud has been a cherished friend and mentor to everyone who has had the privilege of working with him here in trying to make racing fun for everyone and spearheading a raft of improvements to the facilities.
“Bud sits alongside the likes of Victor Lucas as the defining characters in the history of our beloved racecourse.”
Mr Booth is succeeded by his fellow course director Tommy Cooper.
Also retiring as directors were Jean Lucas, James Given and Phil Would.
The next meeting at the course will be County Day on Wednesday, January 18.