Rasen still a course to be reckoned with

The closure of Hereford and Folkestone racecourses is a reminder to all local racing devotees what a thriving course there is at Market Rasen.

Last week’s Boxing Day meet saw another bumper crowd at the award winning venue.

The closures remind us of how racing is vulnerable like all industry in a time of recession. Thankfully Market Rasen has an exciting programme in store for 2013.

The biggest meeting of the year will once again be the feature Summer Plate day on July 21.The summer evening meetings including Ladies Night and Music Night will again prove hugely popular, but it will be worth keeping an eye on the sport’s leading jockey as he closes in on a personal milestone.

Battered and bruised AP McCoy soldiers on through the pain barrier towards his target of 4,000 winners.

Already the only jump jockey to ride 3,000 winners, a target he reached in 2009, the multi-champion stood on 3,694 wins and just 306 to reach the magic 4,000 as the year ended. Will Market Rasen host the day when he gets there?

McCoy has fond memories of Market Rasen, not least of the day he rode his five winners out of seven races in 2002. It was his best ever day’s work anywhere.

Last month he rode his 100th winner of the 2012-13 season, ironically Hereford being the track and shortly before a couple of bad days at the office.

An errant hurdler at Stratford left him sore and lame and remarkably taking a day off. Then while on his way to the start at Wetherby he caught the full force of a hoof in his face after being tipped off.

A hurried jouney to York Hospital repaired the damage. 20 stitches were applied and three teeth needed major dentistry, but typically he was in the saddle the next day.

In his career, broken ribs and a punctured lung were among the worst of the injuries he has suffered causing a month’s lay off.

Battered and bruised he may often be, that is the nature of the sport, but this remarkably dedicated and modest sportsman is now the respected leader of his craft.