Market Rasen races: Cyclop takes Lincolnshire National honours

A packed parade ring at last year's Boxing Day race meeting EMN-171227-132509002
A packed parade ring at last year's Boxing Day race meeting EMN-171227-132509002

A festive crowd of 8,000 enjoyed some competitive racing at the traditional Boxing Day meeting at Market Rasen Racecourse.

The cold snap had ended and racing went ahead as planned with the going described as good-to-soft on the hurdles course and soft on the chase course.

The £20,000 Class 3 Clugston Lincolnshire National provided the highlight, as always, at the festive meeting.

In 2016, Gonalston Cloud, from Nick Kent’s Newstead Yard, near Brigg, proved a popular winner, but this year there was to be no Lincolnshire-based horse to challenge the visitors from afar.

The soft going provided a gruelling test for this three-mile three-furlong chase with 13 runners going to post.

The winner was Cyclop (7/1), trained by David Dennis at Hanley Swan, and ridden by Trevor Whelen.

The six-year-old led all the way up the straight and had stamina aplenty for this race, having shaped well in coming second at the Southern National at Fontwell in November.

He also came to Rasen still favourably in with the handicapper.

The opening race, a selling handicap hurdle, was comfortably won by three lengths by Ninepointsixthree (7/2), trained by Sam England and ridden by Jonathan England.

A multiple winner on the flat he had something to prove over hurdles and this easy win in a poor field will not have changed much.

The second race, the Diamond Anniversary Novices Hurdle, saw yet another win at the course in 2017 for top trainer Dan Skelton as Ashkoul (9/5) did the business with Bridget Andrews in the saddle.

The strongly-fancied Skelton horse was always a likely winner given his trainer, and with his record on the flat behind him.

Nick Kent saddled Cibor, but with only bumper experience, he finished down the field.

There were three horses trained by local handlers in the sixth race of the meeting.

Scamblesby trainer Steve Gollings saddled Artic Milan, Michael Chapman brought Port Lairge from his Woodlands yard in Market Rasen, and Nick Kent saddled Picknick Park.

The latter was always up with the leaders, but faded by the last to finish outside the places behind the easy winner Randy Pike from the Tim Easterby yard at Malton.

Two other winners on the afternoon were Kimberlite Candy (13/2) in the Garthwest Novicers Handicap Chase who carried the famous green and white hooped colours of JP McManus, and the grey Fair Loch (12/1) in the Rand Farm Park Chase.