Wishing And Hoping made every yard of the running to claim a cosy success in the Jewson Tool Hire Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Aintree.
The 11-year-old has not seen too much racing for a horse of his age, with this three-mile-one-furlong contest just his 18th start under rules having previously been trained by Alan King and Phil Rowley.
Now handled by Rowley’s wife Mel, Wishing And Hoping (11-4) was last seen winning a hunter chase at Worcester in May but jockey Alex Edwards was eager to take an early lead on his first run in 156 days.
Wishing And Hoping was happy to bowl along in front, turning up the pace before eventually pulling clear before the last and galloping out for an eight-and-a-half-length win over Rolling Dylan, with Robin Des Foret third.
Phil Rowley said: “The horse was originally with Alan King, and we point to pointed him with a few hunter chases as well and my wife took her licence out. The problem with him with his rating is he was always carrying 12st and over in hunter chases and I always felt he wanted better ground so he could be able to roll.
“Peter and Trish Andrews (owners) were very happy for him to come down this route and when we walked the course, I thought ‘fantastic’ as it was rolling good ground. It’s a great day and they’re wonderful people.
“I think the veteran route is a good route for him, though we’ll have to pick our course a little bit as he wouldn’t want Cheltenham in a bog or something. Mel’s got the professional licence and I do the point to pointing and it’s all going great.”
Gelino Bello made a successful start over obstacles in the Jewson Birkenhead, Price Street Maiden Hurdle.
Trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Cobden, the five-year-old stepped up on his bumper efforts that saw him win at Plumpton and finish third in Listed company last term.
Ridden with confidence by Cobden, the 11-8 favourite made smooth progress throughout before coming home six lengths clear of Ree Okka.
Nicholls’ assistant Harry Derham said: “It was a nice performance and his bumper form was good for a horse who we thought would never really be much of a bumper performer.
“He jumped beautifully and Harry got him in a nice position. He’s a very relaxed horse and he probably showed a turned of foot today that we might not have thought was there, so he’s an exciting horse.”
The rider later made it a double aboard the Alan Jones-trained Lady Excalibur in the closing Jewson Southport, Bispham Road EBF Mares’ Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Lucinda Russell and Derek Fox were on the mark with Corach Rambler (5-2 favourite) in the Jewson St Helens Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase and a crack at the Scottish National could now be on the cards.
Russell said: “I’m absolutely delighted and he’s Scu’s (partner Peter Scudamore) favourite horse. It’s brilliant for the owners who’ve come here today and he was always going to be a chaser. He just stays forever and ever and he even takes a photo well!
“It was kind of the plan to come here today really. We knew the trip would be too short for him at Perth (last month) but we just wanted to give him the experience before we came here.
“I’ve got a few more races in mind coming up and I’d love to go to the Scottish National, I know he’s only a novice but he’s definitely got the ability to stay, he’s that type.”
Uno Mas (11-4 favourite) was another visually impressive victor in the opening Jewson Click And Collect Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, while Mackelduff (11-2) finished with a flourish to lift the Jewson Wallasey Handicap Hurdle for Olly Murphy and Aidan Coleman.