Prime Venture came from the rear of the field to win a stamina-sapping contest for the Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase Series Final at Sandown.
Adam Wedge delivered the Evan Williams-trained 11-year-old with a well-timed run to lead at the final fence and land the £51,000 first prize.
Valadom made a gallant attempt to lead all the way and was 15 lengths clear at one stage. However, he started to weaken rapidly after the third-last fence as the pack closed in.
Final Nudge, the 100-30 favourite, took it up but that proved short-lived as Prime Venture (18-1) loomed up menacingly before pulling away on the climb to the line after three miles and 22 fences.
The winning distance was nine lengths from Final Nudge, with Sir Ivan a further four lengths away third. Dashing Perk was fourth and Valadom last of the five finishers.
Williams said: “He doesn’t win many times, but he has run mighty races in Welsh Nationals and I was probably guilty of training him for Welsh Nationals all his life and perhaps the little horse didn’t get the opportunity to go and win as many races as perhaps he should have.
“But it all goes down to owners again. And Mr and Mrs Davies have had some lovely horses over the years and they just let you hatch a plan and I can’t over-emphasise as a trainer when you get a free rein some way down the line the owners will get rewarded.”
Williams also paid tribute to jockey Wedge, adding: “It’s great that Wedgey has got his day because as you all know he’s our man and it’s nice when you win.”
Wedge said: “It’s very, very hard work out there and Evan said to me to just go out there and ride him to a finish and nick a little bit and we nicked more than a little bit in the end.”
Talking about the owners, he said: “They’ve put a lot in since I’ve been with Evan they’ve been there and they’re buying young horses all the time and it’s good for them.
“It (veterans’ series) is fantastic. That lad’s been placed in a Welsh National a couple of times and you wouldn’t believe it’s only the second race he’s won over a fence, but he always wears his heart on his sleeve and tries every time.”