Two massive Grade 1 races with total prize money of £85,000 dominated Saturday’s card at Market Rasen.
It brought to an end a summer jump racing season at the course featuring large crowds and on the two big days in July and September of high quality racing.
The second race on the card, the £35,000 Racing UK Prelude Hurdle Handicap, saw a two-length win for 11/2 shot Cloonacool, saddled by Newport Pagnell trainer Stuart Edmunds and given an impressive ride by top jockey Paddy Brennan.
There was plenty of quality in the nine horse field, with top trainers all fancying their stable stars, including 2012 Grand National-winning trainer Richard Newland with Gran Maestro, who won the Listed Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen in July.
Gran Maestro led on the first circuit for a short while before fading. Other fancied runners in the field were likewise seen off by the winner in impressive style. It was especially notable in that the six-year-old had been given time off since February.
The second Grade 1 race was the £50,000 Racing FX Prelude Steeplechase run over two miles five furlongs. Favourites have a shocking record in this race over the years, but that was about to change.
Highly fancied, Gray Hession, from Jonjo O’Neill’s stables, with Richie McLernon on board, entered the race with wins from his last three starts. Valco De Touzaine, third in this year’s Summer Plate in July, and trained by Paul Nicholls, and Cloud Creeper with Richard Johnson, leader in the jockey’s championship in the saddle, were also fancied.
But it was Oscar Rock, the 4/1 joint favourite, who romped home by three-and-a-quarter lengths. Trained by Malcolm Jefferson at Malton the winner jumped impressively to delight his trainer.
Asked by racecourse presenter Mike Vince if he might be a Cheltenham Gold Cup horse, Jefferson said: “No, we are not looking at that yet but the ‘Paddy Power’ in November may be a suitable race for him.”
The opening Juvenile Hurdle was won by 7/4 favourite Leoncavallo by an impressive 14 lengths, while the fourth race was won by Forever My Friend for trainer Peter Bowen and his son, jockey Sean Bowen.