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Shantou Express motors to Market Rasen victory

Shantou Express returned to form at Market Rasen to emerge victorious for David Bass and Kim Bailey.

The chestnut was last a winner in 2020 and had been well-beaten in four previous starts this term, but a return to a two-and-a-half-mile trip seemed to suit the 12-1 chance.

Travelling in midfield in the first half of the Join Racing TV Now Handicap Hurdle, Shantou Express was nudged into contention with two fences remaining and took up the lead after the last to win by two lengths.

“It’s great to have him back, he’s a lovely horse with a lovely attitude,” said Bass.

“He was almost a little too relaxed through the race, but he jumped so well and was very clever over his hurdles.

“I know he has some form over two miles, but he’s pushing on more for three now I’d say. Either way it was just nice to have him back on form.”

The Racing TV ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle went the way of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Super Six, who was a game winner at 15-8 under the trainer’s son, Sam.

The grey showed promise as a bumper horse and finished fifth behind Sir Gerhard in the championship event at the Cheltenham Festival last season, but after winning his hurdling debut he was unplaced in two subsequent starts before getting back on track with a good second at Taunton earlier in the month.

At Market Rasen the gelding went one better, battling 8-11 favourite Doctor Ken from the penultimate fence to the line to prevail by half a length.

Richard Ryan, racing manager to owners Teme Valley, said: “That was a very canny ride from Sam.

“He’ll make a nice chaser for next season, we’ll probably wait for the softer ground so I’d say that would be it for this year.”

Twiston-Davies then rode a second winner on the card when Thirtyfourstitches bounced back from a fall last time out to take the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle and record his fourth success of the season.

The bay, who is trained by Dr Richard Newland, already had a course and distance victory to his name and added another when prevailing by four lengths as the 13-8 favourite.

“It was a combination of things that have helped him, two-mile-seven (furlongs),” said the jockey.

“He was just able to get up front and dictate the pace and fair play to the horse, he’s won it really well.”

Onchan then provided the rider with a treble on the card, taking the Racing TV Handicap Chase for his father at 4-1.

Ashoka was a winner for the first time since 2019 when taking the extended two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton.

The 10-year-old started as a 12-1 chance after heavy defeats in each of his runs this term but made light work of an 11-runner field to secure a five-and-a-half-length victory over Forever Des Long.

“He is really happy with himself. He went really well through the race and then I just pulled him out, sent him home and he’s gone and won it really nicely,” said the winning rider.

“I just thought today was about letting him get on with it in front and letting him get his head in front.”

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