Thrilling contest at the ‘racecourse of the year’

MANAGEMENT and staff at Market Rasen Racecourse were in celebratory mood at Sunday’s meeting after the course won the 15th annual Neil Wyatt Ground Staff award for producing the best jump racing track in the country.

Sunday’s racegoers at the ‘Racecourse of the Year’ saw a fine head to head contest in its feature race between two class performers.

The £7,000 Ralph Larder 65th Birthday Novices Steeplechase saw Cape Tribulation, the mount of odds on favourite Denis Regan (4-6), fight out a last lap dual with Radium (11-8) under Barry Geraghty. The latter got up on the line. The winner is trained by Nicky Henderson at Lambourn and after a successful hurdling career made his chasing debut at Cheltenham last October without success, falling at halfway.

Cape Tribulation had previously not convinced anyone of his jumping ability either, despite a recent second in a Grade 2 race at Wetherby.

Both jumped well enough here though, but it was the winner’s ability to find an extra gear after the pair took the last together that proved decisive.

The opening race saw top jockey Richard Johnson have his only ride of the afternoon on 10/11 favourite Spirit of Adjisa, a useful flat performer who now has wins in two starts over the smaller obstacles for Vale of Glamorgan trainer Tim Vaughan.

In the second race, the RCJ Associates Ltd. Handicap Hurdle, Viscount Rossini was sent out by Scamblesby trainer Steve Gollings and the Wolds trained nine–year–old looked to have a chance as they approached the straight.

L’Eldorado with Tom Messenger up had made almost all the running however, and the 14-1 shot front runner held on for his first win over hurdles for Grantham handler Chris Bealby. Viscount Rossini finished fourth, never getting near enough to threaten.

Pegasus Prince (15-2) recently won over hurdles for the first time after moving to the Saltburn yard of Keith Reveley.

He continued that form here under James Reveley in the Legsby Road Handicap Hurdle, going ahead by the final flight and getting up by a length from Kauto Relko.

The pace on the first lap had stretched the field out and among those left in the wake of the leaders was The Magic Bishop, who won here at the last meeting, but found the heavier going (good to soft, soft in places) and the fast pace, as well as the handicapper’s intervention, too much this time round.

The fifth race, the Market Rasen Racecourse Caravan Site Handicap Hurdle, saw an impressive run form Nomadic Warrier, the 7-2 favourite under David England. The longer trip seemed to suit the bottom weight and he was impressive in scoring a three length win.

Darkness closed in on a gloomy afternoon for the last two races. Outsider Duke of Ormond cheered up those lucky enough to back a 33-1 shot, as he romped home by seven lengths in the final handicap chase with Charlie Poste up.

Normality resumed in the bumper at the bottom of the card as 2-1 favourite Anychancedave got up by a head.

Trained by Alan Swinbank at Richmond, the four–year–old won at Ayr last time out and there looks to more in the tank in the future.