Wayward Prince defied his advancing years to spring a 25-1 surprise in the BetBright Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. The 11-year-old was good enough to win a Grade One hurdle in 2010 and has been highly tried in chase company, but he had lost his way in recent seasons.
Last successful at Aintree in 2012, Hilary Parrott’s charge was racing off a mark of 124, as opposed to his career-high of 155, and he made the most of the opportunity. He travelled well throughout in the hands of Robbie Dunne, sitting on the heels of 9-2 joint favourite Streams Of Whiskey until that one smashed through the fifth-last to leave Wayward Prince in front.
Streams Of Whiskey was pulled up before the next and Wayward Prince was left with a healthy advantage that he maintained all the way to the line, winning by seven lengths.
The other market leader, Drop Out Joe, finished second, four lengths ahead of Night In Milan, with Theatre Queen finishing a commendable fourth after giving away 20 lengths or more at the start when slow to consent to race.
Dunne said: “He travelled well and jumped extremely well. He kept on going and jumped super. He’s a horse with a lot of class that had dropped down the weights.”
Parrott said Wayward Prince’s recent run of poor form had prompted thoughts of retirement, but was delighted to see him back on form. She said: “He’s been working very well at home, but we were going to retire him after his last run because he’d had three dismal runs.
“I decided I would retire him. I went away for a week and my head girl (Laurianne York) said we shouldn’t retire him as he was absolutely flying, so I thought we’d give him a chance.
“We’ll keep him going and I suppose he’ll run again this season somewhere. Robbie (Dunne) suggested the Scottish National. We’ll have to see how he is at home first.”
At Newbury, trainer Paul Nicholls continued his habit of taking the big Saturday prizes this season when Sound Investment won the Greatwood Gold Cup.
With two fences to go, though, victory for Nicholls’ charge looked in doubt as Bennys Mist, representing last year’s winning handler, Venetia Williams, appeared to have stolen a decisive advantage.
However, Sam Twiston-Davies got to work on the 7-2 favourite, and Sound Investment dug deep on the run-in to eventually edge out Bennys Mist by three-quarters of a length. Simply Wings was a further 17 lengths adrift in third.
Nicholls hailed his jockey’s efforts, saying: “It was a great ride from Sam. He is riding incredibly well. He’s a sound investment for the future.”
Meanwhile, Glingerburn looks a horse firmly on the upgrade after he pocketed the totescoop6 Premier Kelso Hurdle at the Borders circuit.
Winner of the Morebattle Hurdle over course and distance on his last start, Nicky Richards’ seven-year-old took his game to another level in the Grade Two over two and a quarter miles.
The 5-2 chance won by three and a quarter lengths from Bristol De Mai, who was in receipt of lots of weight, but was still comprehensively beaten.
Richards said: “I was delighted with him, he did it very well and he was giving weight away to some good horses.
“You would have to be impressed with him. He will go to either Aintree or the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr now.”
Runswick Royal’s stamina came to the fore in the Totepool Premier Chase at Kelso. The 9-4 favourite saw out the trip of just shy of three miles to deny brave front-runner Upsilon Bleu, recording a two-length verdict for Northumberland trainer Ann Hamilton.