The latest meeting at Market Rasen last Thursday survived two morning inspections after the ground was saturated by overnight rain, before stewards gave it the go ahead.
The uncertainty impacted upon the gate with only a few hundred present on a bitterly cold afternoon, but those there, as well as the TV audience, saw a superb afternoon’s racing.
The attention was mainly focussed on the three races which took up the middle of the card.
Highlight of the richest-ever day’s winter racing staged at the course was the £20,000 Class 1 Listed Race, the 188BET Alan Swinbank Mares Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson had gone to Newbury instead of coming to Rasen to ride Rococo Style, trained by Steve Gollings at Scamblesby.
Johnson ended up without a winner down south while the local horse owned by the Market Rasen-based ‘Tensational’ syndicate fared no better, finishing down the field.
The race was won by Dissavril (8/1) with Gavin Sheehan in the saddle. The winner, trained by Emma Lavelle, fought off the 2/1 favourite Aimee De Sivola who had Lizzie Kelly on board.
Kelly had won earlier on Cabernet D’Alene who was recording a third win from four for trainer Nick Williams.
Nick Kent’s Bowie made the short journey for this race from the trainer’s Newstead Stable, near Brigg, and he made his usual gallant effort.
“The ground was a bit heavy for him and at 11-year-old he is getting a bit cute,” said Kent.
The winner hurdled impressively and ran on to win easing up by 11 lengths.
Kent had saddled the much younger Irish-bred Brights Park in the opening hurdle and was pleased with his efforts in sixth place among 12 runners.
Henry Brook had the ride on both local horses.
“At six, Brights Park is still young and it was a decent effort considering the going,” said Kent. ”He is getting better with each run.”
The big chase of the afternoon was the £20,000 Weatherby’s Racing Bank Graduation Chase where Le Rocher (5/2) also trained by Williams, stumbled two out, but survived to win a hard-fought battle under Tom Scudamore to see off last year’s winner and favourite Three Musketeers.
The Scottish-trained Bialco made the long journey through the Borders’ snow from the Kinross stable of Lucinda Russell just about worthwhile, finishing a distant third at 25/1.
But there was though no place betting reward with only four in the race.
Three Musketeers is trained by Dan Skelton who had earlier saddled Itsnonofurbusiness (16/1) to victory in the Class 4 Handicap Hurdle, with Harry Skelton on board.
The next meeting at Market Rasen is the 188Bet County Raceday on Tuesday, February 6.