Champion jockey Richard Johnson gave a masterclass in riding at Market Rasen Racecourse to win the feature chase at last Thursday’s meeting.
Johnson was on board Atlanta Ablaze among a small field for the listed Bud Booth Mare’s Chase, which was delayed while course checks were carried out for standing water on the course.
Atlanta Ablaze, trained by Henry Daly at Ludlow, was third in this race last year, with Johnson in the saddle, and the eight-year-old subsequently ran impressively at the Cheltenham Festival in March, only to fall at the second-last when well-placed.
Johnson and the other runners took the first half of Thursday’s chase, run over two miles seven furlongs, at a modest pace.
It was clear stamina was going to be the key, and the champion jockey gave his mount a magnificent ride, particularly through the squelchy patches in the home straight.
She took the lead from front runner Annie Angel two out before Johnson found a little extra in his mount to hold on to the post at the end of the sapping test.
Colin ‘Bud’ Booth, the long-serving racecourse chairman who retired two years ago, was delighted the race could take place at all.
“I feel touched that the course honours me by running this race every year,” he said.
“I enjoyed every minute of my time here. Given the conditions, Richard Johnson gave her a fantastic ride.”
Heavy rain had threatened the card throughout the afternoon after a lunchtime downpour made cancellation a possibility.
In the end every race on the card was completed thanks to the hard-working groundstaff, but only a thin crowd braved the elements.
Timetochill won the opener with Adam Wedge on board, while Nettleton trainer Ollie Williams sent Essential to post for her second start over the smaller obstacles.
The five-year-old, under Charlie Hammond, was held up early before racing keenly, then weakening three out. She may have a small race in her to catch the eye of locals.
Nick Kent brought two runners from his Brigg stable, but 12-year-old Bowie, much loved here, seems to be getting close to retirement so far as racecourses are concerned.
He finished seventh at 33-1 in the Needwood Service Station Handicap Hurdle.
His stablemate, the younger Oregon Gold, also had 3lb-claiming jockey Hammond on board in the Oval Partnership Novice Hurdle.
He ran prominently in the early stages before having to be pulled up three out.
Sojourn, ridden by Rex Dingall and brought all the way from Anthony Honeyball’s Dorset stable, hacked up to win easily.
Owners Jon and Jacqueline Hughes travelled from Cheltenham and were a little concerned their horse would not get a chance to run as conditions worsened on their arrival.
Mr Hughes said: “I’ve travelled a long way, but I always love coming to Market Rasen which clearly made every effort to ensure all the races took place if humanly possible, despite the dreadful weather conditions.
“The staff work so hard here and make you feel so very welcome, I’m so pleased to have made it through the bad weather and to celebrate my winner.”
Punters and staff alike will hope for a little less rain when the next meeting takes place at Market Rasen on Thursday, November 21.