At the grand old age of 13, Wishing And Hoping caused a 50-1 shock in the Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase Final at Sandown.
The Mel Rowley-trained winner travelled sweetly on the front end in the three-mile test and barring accidents, looked to have the race won at the Pond Fence.
Though he got in close at the penultimate obstacle and did not jump fluently at the last, 3lb claimer Alex Edwards’ mount had enough to spare to defeat the staying-on top-weight and co-favourite Ramses De Teillee, who was two and a quarter-lengths down at the line, having made up plenty of ground from the last fence.
Run To Milan stuck on for third, some five lengths behind Up Helly Aa King fourth.
Wishing And Hoping had not won since taking a veterans’ handicap chase at Aintree in October 2021, although he finished runner-up in that same event in October last year and this was a career-best effort off a mark of 139.
Phil Rowley, Mel’s husband, who runs the Bridgnorth, Shropshire yard’s point-to-point string, was in two minds about the ground after persistent rain.
“We were concerned about the ground and thought let’s see how he gets on,” said Rowley.
“I couldn’t believe how far he was in from at the Pond Fence, I just hoped he’d keep going and he did.”
He added: “We’ve had a professional licence for two years and this is by far the biggest success we’ve had. It’s a privilege to train horses like this.”
Delighted winning owner Trish Andrews said: “It was heart stopping. We have had horses for a long time, but that was really extraordinary. For a horse of his age to show such amazing form and to jump so well it was brilliant. My heart is still thumping out of my chest. I thought I was going to need the ambulance.
“We have done this hobby for quite a long time. He has been a bit of a slow burner, but Phil, Mel and Alex have really found the key to him and given him his confidence and that is why at 13 he is showing the form he is.
“He was too buzzy as a youngster and he needed more time before going under rules and in hindsight we did it the wrong way round with him. If we could turn the clock back he should have done this when he was four or five.”