Pete The Feat: jumps the last before powering up the Sandown hillPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Teenager Pete The Feat lands veterans' final
Report: Sandown, Saturday
32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase (The Final of the 2016 Veterans' Chase Series) 3m, 10yo+
TEENAGER Pete The Feat recorded the tenth and biggest win of his 56-race career, tenaciously galloping all the way to the line under Aidan Coleman to secure the much-coveted £61,900 first place prize-money.
This series for veterans is in just its second year but has proved popular and 16 old favourites went to post for a race in which the winner's stablemate Loose Chips, who held on to finish third, set a proper gallop.
The strong pace and the stiff jumping test that Sandown provides slowly whittled down the field. Turning for home the final time just seven remained in with a chance and as Coleman kicked on approaching the Pond fence it was only Colin Tizzard's Theatrical Star who looked a danger.
Given the season Tizzard has had, he added his first Grade 1 of 2017 earlier on the card to the seven he landed in 2016, there was a feeling of inevitability to Theatrical Star's challenge. He loomed up under Brendan Powell, who was bedecked in the purple, red and yellow silks made famous this season by Hennessy and Welsh National winner Native River, but try as he might Pete The Feat was not for passing.
Pete The Feat ends long wait
Charlie Longsdon's brave battler last crossed the line in front in 2013, some 12 starts ago. He has dropped 15lb in that time and off a feather weight of 10st 1lb he found enough to repel Theatrical Star's late challenge and give his trainer just his second winner since the start of December.
"Aidan has given him a fantastic ride," said Longsdon, who was caught on camera giving his charge every ounce of encouragement up the hill he could muster. "Don't take anything away from our horse [Loose Chips] that came third. He did that off ten days training. He cut himself very badly after Sandown at the beginning of December and had three weeks off so he has run a blinder but it was great to see old Pete The Feat win.
"I thought he was a 16-1 chance not a 33-1 shot and Loose Chips an 8-1 shot not a 16-1 shot.
"We haven't had a winner since the middle of December. If we were in form they would probably have been half the price. The horses have been running well, just not winning.
"He is still full of enthusiasm so why retire him when he has the enthusiasm he has got. He likes to push around and Wilf Rayer, who is in his early 70s and rides him every day, lets him get away with murder and that keeps him as sweet as he is."
Of the runner-up, Theatrical Star's trainer Colin Tizzard said: "We are grateful for being here [in second]. He's run a lovely race.
"At 11 we were starting to think it was nearly time to be doing something else, but you give a horse a hurdle race and let them enjoy themself, then take your time in a race instead of making the running and the difference can be amazing. There was only one better in the race.
"He's a good boy. We'll press on again, and maybe it will be a handicap hurdle next."
David Pipe announced after the race that beaten favourite Dynaste would be retired and Tom Scudamore said: "He's given us all some wonderful days. He could never really get there but he tried his heart out and it was only his guts that got him into seventh.
"It would probably have been soft enough, but he was second in a King George on similar ground so we can't really use that as an excuse. He's still very enthusiastic, though."