Sam’s Adventure bounced back to form with a strong, staying performance to win the Betfair Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at Haydock.
After two runs last month, Brian Ellison’s eight-year-old was razor sharp for the feature race on the card – and he duly produced the goods.
There was plenty of drama, however, with several horses failing to finish.
Early leader Roll Again was one, unseating his rider and then sadly having to be put down after injuring his spine in a fall while loose.
Crixus’s Escape and Enqarde also exited the race, while Pop Rockstar was twice badly hampered before finishing last.
Held up out of harm’s way by champion jockey Brian Hughes in the early stages of the near three-and-a-quarter-mile event, Sam’s Adventure (14-1) crept into contention in the straight.
The well-fancied Sojourn hit the front at the third-last, but Sam’s Adventure was biding his time.
Produced by Hughes to lead at the final fence, he galloped on resolutely to take the prize by four lengths from Sojourn.
Salty Boy was two and a quarter lengths further back in third, with Highest Sun another length away in fourth place.
The win completed a 149-1 double for Hughes, following his earlier success on Albert’s Back.
“It’s been a great day now. He had a chance on the best of his form,” said the champion jockey.
“He’s a good jumper, stays well – and although he got beaten the last day, he was interfered with down the back here and did well to stand up.
“He’s a horse Brian (Ellison) fancied coming here today – and he was right.
“He’s a big old lad, and it’s probably taken a couple of runs for him to come to hand.
“Brian and his team had him in great shape coming here today, so it’s no surprise to them anyway. It is to me, but not to them, and it’s great to win a race for (owners) Julie and Phil Martin in Julie’s colours. Brilliant.”