The start of the proper National Hunt winter season brought weather to match as a thin crowd gathered on a wet midweek afternoon for the 32Red meeting.
There was local interest in the first chase of the afternoon, the 32Red.com Handicap (Class 4). Market Rasen trainer Michael Chapman’s The Society Man is a regular starter at Rasen which is just a short journey from his Woodlands stables on Willingham Road.
A game sort, he has reached the frame consistently over the sticks, but he was pulled up last time out here two weeks ago.
This though was a better effort as he finished in third behind top weight Ready Token (9/4) ridden by top rider Aiden Coleman who has ridden some impressive rides recently, not least here. His mount barely touched a twig on his way round.
Chapman was also pleased with The Society Man: “He runs very gamely. I felt the course was watered a bit too much for him, the jockey is covered in mud.
“But for a mistake second time round he would have got second. He has been a great horse for me and won over £20,000 in prize money.”
Chapman confirmed his regular jockey Joe Cornwall has retired.
“He took a nasty fall and was injured at Stratford and has not really been the same since,” he said. “Danny Burton has been riding for me today, he’s a good jockey.”
The opening National Hunt Novices Hurdle was won by the strongly fancied 5/4 favourite Closest Friend, trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by Harry Skelton.
The six-year-old had finished second at Stratford last month and it was no surprise he played the leading role here.
The second race, a Mares Handicap Hurdle, featured course and distance winner Russian Royale. Despite two June wins and a consequent rise in the weights she held on under challenge after the final flight to score by four lengths.
It helped that jockey Finian O’Toole was claiming 7lb on the 4/1 shot.
Kheskianto, also trained by Chapman, has just two wins on the flat from 78 starts and the nine-year-old’s career over hurdles is also yet to take off. She tailed off at the back of the field.
Oh Land Abloom (5/2 favourite) won on his hurdle debut at Rasen in April, and switched to a handicap over a longer two-mile seven-furlong, the extra distance clearly suited.
It was an impressive win by the five-year-old under jockey Trevor Whelen in the afternoon’s third race. Will Kennedy on Come on Sunshine threatened for a while, but like the sunshine, failed to show.
Winning trainer Neil King was delighted and optimistic about the prospects for his charge going forward.
“He’s come second twice and been in decent form, all credit to him,” he said. “He is itching to go on now and improve.
“He’s in the handicap at a sensible weight at the moment. It was his first try at more than two miles.”
Third chase of the afternoon was the 32Red Sport Class 5 Chase which was won by Chankillo who had Sam Twiston-Davies up and was winning at the 27th attempt.
The next meeting at Market Rasen takes place on Saturday.