With one of today’s richest races, the Veterans’ Chase at Sandown (worth more than 60 grand) to the winner), it was perhaps fitting that two 13 years olds fought out the finish of the only race today worth even more, the rearranged Coral Welsh National.
From what I can make out, since 1948 only two 11 year olds (Happy Spring in 1967 and Mountainous in 2015) and one 12 year old (Gallery in 1950) have won this marathon slog through the heavy Chepstow mud. So what an effort, and congratulations to both Raz De Maree (also second 12 months ago) and Alfie Spinner, the gallant 33-1 runner up – with the rest nowhere.
At Sandown, Buywise (a sprightly 11 year old) finally came good beating the remarkable 14 year old, Peat the Feat, last year’s winner who had jumped the last clear. No disrespect to Buywise, but he has been the definition of a ‘cliff horse’, always promising the big day was about to happen but never quite delivering. A bit like that other loveable perpetual loser My Tent of Yours (also an 11 year old) who finally won a race, the International Hurdle at Cheltenham a few weeks ago. It can be a mugs game for sure!
Some great old horses. And as an answer to that perpetual question what extra race would you add to the Cheltenham Festival, I suspect that a veterans’ race would be popular – certainly more so a race like the mare’s novice hurdle.
These are the horses that help make National Hunt racing what it is. The familiarity and affection held for these hardy old timers borne from year after year of giving their all is so different from the passing dalliance we have with the vast majority of blue blood horses on the Flat. Earlier this week I blogged about the G1 novice hurdle action this weekend. Today though was all about experience.