Market Rasen Racecourse paid tribute to their long-serving groundsman Steve Bakin at Autumn Ladies’ Day on Saturday.
Steve retired last month following 44 years of service at the Lincolnshire racecourse, having been promoted to head groundsman in 1998.
It was also announced over the weekend that he had been honoured with the prestigious Neil Wyatt Lifetime Achievement Award by the Racecourse Association.
A spokesman for the Jockey Club, which runs the course, said: “Steve’s dedication to Market Rasen, his local track, has been quite extraordinary.
“In that time he has overseen some of the most radical changes ever in jump racing, including the introduction of summer jumping, the re-cambering of the back straight and the introduction of portable fences among them.”
The meeting itself attracted a slightly disappointing crowd, racegoers possibly put off by small fields as well as the forecast rain in the afternoon.
The most interesting chase of the afternoon was the Class 3 Virgin Bet Novices’ Chase, the first race on the card over the bigger obstacles.
Rouge Vif, trained by Harry Wittington at Lambourne, was an interesting novice hurdler, but here made his debut over fences.
Hints of class had been evident in his hurdling career, including a third place in a top race at the Aintree Grand National meeting in April.
Sent off at 2/1, Rouge Vif gave an impressive display of jumping in the 2mile 1f race, although only five runners went to post despite total prize money of £13,400.
The winner’s jumping looked good enough and he surged clear to take the race by an impressive seven lengths from Baddesley Knight, with last season’s Imperial Cup winner Malaya in third.
The well-backed favourite was Earlofthecotswolds, an impressive winner at Market Rasen’s previous meeting, who was well-placed under top jockey Sam Twiston-Davies before taking a nasty tumble two out, leaving the race wide open.
Winning jockey Gavin Sheehan then made it a double when Flow Away’s took the maiden hurdle.
Trained by Alex
Hales, the winner went to post at 9/2, having been 50/1 earlier in the day.
There was local interest in the race, in Reverend Jacobs who recently joined Nick Kent’s Newstead yard, near Brigg.
He had wins on the flat early in his career before joining the yard of top trainer Alan King, but failed to cut it there in any of his three starts, including his first effort over hurdles.
He never really looked comfortable on his Rasen debut, and after blundering at the start of the home straight was eased up by Jonathan Burke at the rear of the 10 runners.
If favourites were never too far away on the afternoon, the big shock came in the feature £50,000 Virgin Bet Prelude Handicap Chase, where nine runners went to post.
The outsider of the field was Copper West, trained by Jonathan West and ridden by Tom George, but he held off the late challenge of Theligny, from Tim Vaughan’s Vale of Glamorgan stable, to claim the valuable £50,000 prize for the Class 2 race.
The Class 4 Novices Hurdle, the opening race, saw a win for 15/8 favourite Deputy’s Oscar who had Ciaran Gathings on board for trainer Stuart Edmunds.