Bowen had previously won the Grade Three contest with Stately Home (1997), Ballycassidy (2003), Yes Sir (2006), Iron Man (2007), Snoopy Loopy (2008) and More Buck’s (2018) and Francky Du Berlais was perhaps the most impressive of the lot, taking control of matters with a bold jump at the last before bounding clear for a seven and a half-length success under the trainer’s son James.
The victory also proved to be a fitting birthday present for winning owner Roddy Owen, who added to his victories with Ballycassidy and Iron Man by winning the race for a third time. And Karen Bowen, who was representing the winning trainer, was delighted with the performance.
She said: “I’m delighted for Roddy Owen because he’s been a fantastic and loyal owner over the years. We love this race and we love Market Rasen Peter tries to find horses that he thinks will be suitable for this and we always seem to do well here. It took us seven and a half hours to get up here so it was worthwhile!
“He’s one of those who you’ve got to keep a lid on a bit and I don’t think Cartmel suited him last time out. He’s happier when he’s racing and you need a horse that can handle that type of race, because not every horse can handle that fast-run hustle bustle scenario.”
It proved to be a first victory in the race for James Bowen, who took the ride on Francky Du Berlais over Sean Bowen due to not being able to do the weight on Lord Bryan, who was pulled-up.
Karen Bowen added: “James was very excited and to be fair to the boys they’re very supportive of each another. James wasn’t able to do the weight on our other runner Lord Bryan but Sean will still be as happy for his brother as he is for himself and this is James’s biggest win on one of our horses.”
Meanwhile, the winning jockey said: “That was really good, and I couldn’t be happier. He did it so easily as well after the perfect run round. A strong pace really suits him, he would get further but a strong gallop over two and a half really suits him.”
Captain Tom Cat was a well-supported 100-30 favourite for the race and finished fifth for Dr Richard Newland, who commented: “I thought he ran really well. I don’t think he jumped as well as he can and the trip is just starting to stretch him, but he ran a really genuine race. I did say to the handicapper that putting him up 3lbs for beating a horse I used to train and struggled to win a claiming hurdle was a bit tough, but he’s run well.”
It’s a notable afternoon for Market Rasen, with three races being shown live on ITV Racing. Those included the Betway Summer Handicap Hurdle, in which the 40-1 outsider Stonific caused a huge shock for the David O’Meara team.
The eight year old was having his first start over hurdles since February 2020, but he showed no signs of rustiness under Tom Scudamore, surging through on the inside rail to prevail in a pulsating finish – in which the first four were separated by under a length.
And the winning jockey said: “It was an ultra-tough performance, I wish David O’Meara had a few more jumpers now!
“It’s lovely to see everybody here, it’s been too long for obvious reasons and for a horse in a syndicate to win like this is fantastic for everybody. There are so many fantastic stories like this and it just goes to show that it doesn’t take very much to get involved – they deserve it.”
Steve Jessop, representing the winning part-owner Hurn Racing Club, added: “We’re all from Beverley and there’s 14 in the group, while the other half (Rasio Cymru) had a winner last night, so we’re having a good do!
“We’re just working class people and we’ve had the syndicate for 25 years so it’s just unbelievable to win this.”