As the first Jockey Club Jumps course to resume racing since the sport was suspended in March and the only jump course in the Group to be racing during July and August, the team at Market Rasen Racecourse are delighted to be able to stage the Betway Summer Plate on Friday 10th July.
And, while we might not be able to welcome racegoers back to our Lincolnshire track just yet, the action on the course promises to be worth the wait for those watching at home on ITV Racing and Racing TV.
Nadia Powell, General Manager at Market Rasen, and her team have been working tirelessly behind the scenes in readiness for the resumption of racing.
She said “While the revised race programme was being developed there had been some uncertainty about whether the Summer Plate would even run this year, so it feels incredibly positive to be in a position to deliver both the Summer Plate and the Summer Hurdle and I’m aware of the boost this has given to our team morale.
“Not only are we delivering this fixture against considerable odds, but for the first time the Summer Plate will be run as a Grade 3 rather than a listed race, cementing its status as the highlight of the summer jumps calendar.”
The enforced lockdown has presented a unique set of circumstances for the Market Rasen grounds team, too. Jack Pryor, Clerk of the Course, is unused to the track being given a break, being the only jumps course in the country to race 12 months a year under normal circumstances.
Jack explained: “There’s no doubt the track has benefited from lockdown and that having three months for the turf to grow and recover has done it the world of good.
“The team have had the opportunity to do renovations on the turf and have repaired and rebuilt fences. The track has been cut back short and heavily scarified, so it’s had the opportunity to fill in and for new growth to come through.
“It’s not been without challenges though; the warm dry spring has meant we’ve had to irrigate much earlier than we usually do to keep the turf healthy.”
As thoughts turn to Friday’s fixture, the support of the industry’s trainers is also recognised by the Market Rasen team.
Nadia added: “With the uncertainty around the timing of jump racing’s return there was a big question mark about high quality summer jumpers being kept in training, so we’ve been pleasantly surprised to see strong entries across our first fixtures.
“Brain Power is currently rated 152 and will be using the Summer Hurdle as part of his preparation for the American Grand National, so we’re excited to see him in action and pleased that with the fixture shown live on ITV4 racegoers at home will have the chance to feel involved.
“While there are a lot of new processes for us to get our heads round, we’re not feeling any particular pressure from being the first Jockey Club Jumps course to resume. The Group has staged more than 30 racedays since Flat racing resumed on June 1st and that’s given us ample opportunity to learn from our colleagues’ experiences.”