Market Rasen Races: Treble for Nico at UK’s big summer meet

The field clear a fence in the feature Betway Summer Plate Handicap Chase. Picture:  Peter Thompson EMN-190722-093818002
The field clear a fence in the feature Betway Summer Plate Handicap Chase. Picture: Peter Thompson EMN-190722-093818002

A crowd of 8,000 packed out Market Rasen Racecourse on Saturday for what has become the biggest day in the National Hunt summer calendar.

The Betway Summer Plate Ladies’ Day featured two big money races in the £22,780 Betway Summer Handicap Hurdle and the £28,475 Betway Summer Plate Handicap Chase.

Runners in the parade ring before the big race. Picture: Peter Thompson EMN-190722-093829002

Runners in the parade ring before the big race. Picture: Peter Thompson EMN-190722-093829002

All of the country’s biggest stables sent runners seeking to claim a share of the prize money from what was going to be a competitive afternoon of racing.

The feature race, the Summer Chase, was one of three winners for Nico de Boinville.

He kept the 5/1 joint-favourite Cassablanca Mix, well placed throughout and took the lead three fences from home.

From there it was a case of catch me if you can, and they never got near enough to challenge the French-bred seven-year-old mare.

It was the second of three wins on the afternoon for de Boinville.

“It was lovely fast ground and I kept him out wide,” he said.

“She is a tough mare and that was useful on the run-in as it’s a long way from the last.

The rain maybe helped and she was fairly well in at the handicap. We will certainly enjoy the moment.”

The ground was declared good to soft after the third race following heavy showers.

St Gallen, trained by handler Olly Murphy, looked to be a key player among the trainers saddling horses in the Class 1 listed Handicap Hurdle, the second race on the card.

Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, he faced stiff competition from top trainer Dan Skelton who had brother Harry on board the five-year-old Longhouse Sale who had won his previous six races.

Skelton is Market Rasen’s leading trainer over the last year, but the similarly youthful Murphy is rising fast.

But neither claimed the prize as 25/1 outsider Grapevine beat all opposition.

The horse moved from top trainer Nicky Henderson’s stable to that of Sophie Leech just this month and provided the perfect start for her and promising young jockey Connor Brace.

The horse had shown some form on the flat for trainer Charlie Hills earlier this summer.

The opening race was far from competitive and was won easing up by odds-on favourite Gunnery, also ridden by Nico de Boinville. The winning distance was 31 lengths.

Market Rasen trainer Michael Chapman brought Luduamf across the Willingham Road from his Woodlands yard, but he finished at the back of the field on his hurdle debut after making little impression on the flat earlier in his career.

Between the two big races was the Betway Handicap Hurdle in which course and distance winner Native Fighter was strongly fancied after the withdrawal of Global Tour as 10 went to post at the two-mile start.

Brian Hughes was on board 13/2 shot, Lucky Robin, who made all to get home comfortably ahead of 6/4 favourite Native Fighter.

De Boinville completed his treble on Tales of the Tweed (11/2) who won the Novice Chase, while champion Jockey Richard Johnson rode winner Little Stevie in the Class 4 Handicap Chase at the bottom of the card.