Saturday’s Prelude Meeting marked the end of the 2018 summer calendar at Market Rasen and a decent crowd basked in autumnal sunshine.
Favourites have a poor record in the feature races at this meeting and so it proved again.
Exitus, sent off at 12/1, was the winner of the £16,245 Farmhouse Handicap Chase.
The 10-year-old enjoyed a revival in his career last autumn when he won a listed handicap at Aintree.
This year’s form has been more mixed, but under amateur rider Tommie O’Brien he got home by one-and-a-half lengths to show that form may be temporary, but class is permanent.
Not a Role Model and Buster Thomas were sent off as joint 4/1 joint-favourites, but maintaining the pattern of recent years, neither made the frame.
In the £20,000 Ferry Ales Brewery Prelude Handicap Hurdle, Caius Marcius, trained by Nicky Richards, was an easy 11-length winner with the highly-experienced jockey Brian Hughes on board.
Favourite at 11/4 was Theclockisticking who did at least stay in the frame in second, despite being come way distant.
The winner showed some form in novice chases, but kept hitting the woodwork and he clearly feels more at home back over the smaller obstacles.
Three second places and a win at Perth was indicative of decent form in his latest races.
But this was a stronger race and he also had to cope with a 6lb rise in the weights.
The Just Jane Class 2 Juvenile Hurdle always looked set to be an interesting race.
Cracker Factory was sent off the 10/11 favourite, but conceded weight all round after three wins on the bounce.
Trained by Alan King and ridden by Daryl Jacob, he looked to have matters under control as they turned into the straight, but second favourite Jack Regan was always the danger hovering in his wake.
The latter proved the faster on the run-in, showing his flat race ability under Tom O’Brien.
This was the winner’s first start over hurdles, switching from the flat where he was a triple winner, the most significant of which came at Doncaster in a career-best effort.
Elkstone, ridden by Market Rasen’s 2018 Ambassador Sean Bowen, went to post the 9/2 joint favourite for the Smokey Joe Chase, but it was West Wizard, with AP Heskin on board, who led them home.
There is now a month’s break before the Winter Ladies’ Day meeting on Saturday, October 20.