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Skeltons strike Market Rasen gold with Fair Mountain

Champion jockey Harry Skelton enjoyed a victory aboard Fair Mountain as spectators returned to Market Rasen for the first time in 14 months.

Contesting the feature race on the card, the Tickets Available For Boxing Day Handicap Hurdle, the gelding capitalised on his lowest ever rating to strike by two and half lengths at odds of 7-1 for trainer Dan Skelton.

The nine-year-old was dismounted on track following the performance, with his jockey reporting him to have felt slightly sore when pulling up.

“Just when I pulled up, I felt he wasn’t quite 100 per cent,” he said.

“Hopefully it’s not too serious, he’s just a little bit sore probably.

“He’s such a game horse and he travelled with such enthusiasm.

“He’s like that at home, he just really loves the game and it’s nice to get his head in front.”

Micky Hammond’s High Noon was a 12-1 winner of the Dam Buster Handicap Chase under Conor O’Farrell, passing 18-1 chance and eventual runner up Dallas Cowboy before the penultimate flight to prevail by two and a quarter lengths.

The Welcome Back To Market Rasen Racecourse Novices’ Hurdle was claimed by Fergal O’Brien’s Timberman, who duly justified his status as 5-4 favourite when rallying over the last obstacle to prevail by three-quarters of a length from Dan Skelton’s Ambassador.

“It was tactical, it was a sprint from the second-last,” jockey Paddy Brennan said.

“I knew if they went slow, the first one to play his cards would be the one with the advantage, and that was me.

“It’s so much better with the people here, it’s great to see fans back today and that’s what it’s all about.”

Bowser was an 8-1 winner of the Market Rasen Annual Badge Holders Handicap Hurdle under Sean Quinlan, crossing the line a comfortable six and half lengths ahead of 5-2 favourite Serjeant Painter.

The six-year-old joined the yard of Jennie Candlish in January from Michael Winters and was stepping down to two miles after three beaten attempts on English soil.

“He’s come from Ireland and it just took us a few runs to get to know him,” said Quinlan.

“We’ve run him on the wrong ground and the wrong trip, good ground and two miles seems to have done the job.”

Design Icon triumphed in the Book Betway Summer Plate Ladies Day Maiden Hurdle after a photo finish was required to separate the gelding and runner-up Who’s The Guv’Nor.

Trained by Kim Bailey and piloted by Ciaran Gethings, the 13-2 shot tracked the leader before striking late to hit the front on the line.

“He just needs experience,” Gethings said.

“He never even ran in a bumper, he just went straight over hurdles.

“He’s done his job now, he’s won, and the improvement today will be massive.”

The five-year-old has a chasing pedigree and Gethings would not discount a switch to fences in the future.

“He hasn’t got the the most scope in the world, but he’s well able to jump a hurdle,” he said.

“He’s very barrel-like and that’s (chasing) what he’s bred to do.”

Well Smitten was victorious for Sam England in the C31 Limited Handicap Chase after a busy four-way finish.

The nine-year-old approached the final fence in third place, but was able to gradually pick off his rivals to cross the line a length ahead of 11-4 favourite Minella Voucher.

“He’s a lovely old horse, he’s an extremely good jumper – a schoolmaster really,” said jockey Jonathan England of the 13-2 chance.

“He’s been knocking on the door for a while and it was nice to get his head in front, he’s pretty much anyone’s ride.”

The final contest of the day, the Next Race Meeting Friday 4th June Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, went the way of Grozni (5-1) for Brian Hughes and Denis Hogan.