Market Rasen holds its most prestigious meeting on Saturday with the highlight being the Betfred Summer Plate. Summer Jump racing may not be to everyone’s taste but this meeting at the Lincolnshire course always attracts an enthusiastic crowd with races attracting strong competitive fields. Indeed the main event featured a future Grand National winner in 2012 when Auroras Encore finished down the field, and again in 2013 when on this occasion Pineau De Re was a well beaten 12th. Chances are that the 2015 Grand National winner is not amongst Saturday’s entrants, but the race certainly has its usual competitive look. Jonjo O’Neill has clearly decided that he’d like to win this season’s renewal, and sends four runners to post. Course form has proved a positive in previous Summer Plates, and The Nephew was a course and distance winner less than two weeks ago. (Tipped on this very website). The step up in trip appeared to suit and there’s a strong chance he’s still on a favourable handicap mark. This time though Champion jockey AP McCoy has been snapped up to ride the JP McManus owned It’s A Gimme for the Jonjo O’Neill stable. The horse was rated in the 140’s over hurdles and highly thought of, but has only run three times over fences. He struggled to win a novice chase at Worcester last time out and though clearly talented, this looks a big step up for one so inexperienced. Peter Bowen has a stunning record in this Market Rasen showpiece. He’s won the race three times in the last eight years and has a strongly fancied runner in Book’Em Danno. Six times a course winner and twice this year over course and distance, he looks set to run a huge race. If anything, the supporting event looks even more competitive. The Betfred Summer Hurdle was won last year by John Ferguson’s Sea Lord. His runners this year include Purple Bay; a beaten favourite in his last three runs, he is ridden by 7lb claimer Mikey Ennis. He’s a horse with a touch of class who could run a big race at a decent price. Alan King runs top-weight Montbazon. Good enough to run fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle of 2012 his return from injury last season was a little disappointing. He’s had a couple of prep-runs on the flat prior to this and cannot be discounted. Stable companion Uriah Heep is ridden by Richard Johnson. Twice a winner at Stratford already this month he is another interesting contender. Discovery Bay is a horse I fancy at a price. Close behind Willow’s Saviour at Musselburgh last November, (he went on to win the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot) that form appears strong. Trained by Brian Ellison, I think he’ll go close. It’s certain to be a terrific day at Market Rasen. A meeting greatly appreciated by Jump racing fans. Many will be wishing away these summer months, with eyes and minds set on the autumn and the thrilling winter season that lies ahead. To see the JPFestival.com tips this weekend, sign-up as a Community Member for just £6 per month – 4 winners from last 5 Plays!
Eddie Cochrane once sang:
“Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”
After the excitement of quality National Hunt racing throughout the Winter, the Summer months can drag on a bit until the excitement starts to build again in Autumn. The summer jumpers do their best to National Hunt fans entertained until the proper stuff starts again in October, but the quality of racing is a far cry from Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown. But perhaps there is a cure for the summertime blues; here are some horse related ideas to make your Summer more enjoyable:
Attend a Polo Meeting – Not far from the Cheltenham, the home of jump racing, is one of the country’s best polo clubs – Cirencester Polo Club. There are fixtures from June to September and on the social side, the Club is celebrating its 120th anniversary on Saturday 21 June with an Anniversary Ball. Tickets are selling fast.
Point-to-pointing – There are around half a dozen fixtures remaining for the point-to-point season, so if you’re quick you can catch some thrills and spills in the countryside. Point-to-points are contested by horses ridden by amateurs who qualify for the races by learning their skills in the hunting field.
Play an online horse racing game – There might not be much excitement on the track but there’s plenty happening online 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. There are a myriad of virtual horse racing games online and some of the best combine the fast paced action of horse racing with the thrill of slots gaming. One the best of these is Derby Dollars. I’ve struggled to find a virtual jump racing game so if you know of one please let me know.
Enjoy eventing – Eventing is sport combining dressage, cross country over fixed fences and show jumping which provides a great spectacle and competition. The season runs from March to October so it’s an ideal filler for jump racing fans. British Eventing are the National Governing Body for Eventing in Great Britain.
Learn how to ride a horse – Whilst you might never be the next Ruby Walsh, horse riding is a rewarding and exciting sport that can be enjoyed by all ages in the warm fresh summer air. It’s also a great way to exercise. Get to grips with the basics of horse riding by watching this Horse Riding – How to start. You can then progress to lessons at riding schools like Ullenwood Court Riding Centre, near Cheltenham. There are plenty of venues throughout the UK and Ireland, so you’re bound to find one that is convenient for you.
Watch great jump races on YouTube – there are plenty of cracking jump races available to watch on YouTube to keep you going until Winter such as the Dawn Run’s Gold Cup. If you watch last season’s races such as the King George at Kempton this will get you in the mood for next season and perhaps give you a few clues to the future stars too.
And if you’re really stuck you could watch some Flat racing!
What will you be doing this Summer to keep yourself entertained? Let me know in the Comments below.