Wishing And Hoping flies Worcestershire flag against West Country raiders

The Phil Rowley-trained Wishing And Hoping comes from the seemingly continuous winning stable of Gina and Peter Andrews, stalwart supporters of the Pointing scene, and that loyalty was rewarded this evening with a 3/4l victory in the West Midlands Hunters Chase at a soggy Worcester.

The select 5 runner field included 3 Hunterchasers from the Midlands, including Marcle Ridge, owned by Clive Bennett, another of our great stalwarts, and two West Country raiders, including 13/8 favourite Jatiluwih, owned and ridden by the country's leading owner-rider, David Maxwell. Maxwell might reasonably have expected to hoover up this seemingly modest prize, but Wishing And Hoping and Zac Baker had other ideas.

Ground conditions are currently hardly what you might expect in mid-May, but whereas Point-to-Point Open race fields have held up well, Hunter chases, with some excpetions, have generally cut up. There may well be a case for consolidation of the number of hunters' races held on racecourses next season, given that the volume of horses with hunters' certificates is not that far down on previous years.

Rowley, however, is one of a new generation of Point-to-Point handlers successfully bringing on young horses for sale into the mainstream. He was responsible for three of the top lots sold at Thursday's Goffs UK Spring Sale. Maisemore maiden winner The Player Queen, whose October victory set off the season around these parts, was sold to Rose Dobbin for £140,000, a more than tenfold increase since the Rowley enterprise bought her 2 years ago.

Phil Rowley was also responsible for the sale of Ludlow bumper winner Pulling Stumps, sold to Anthony Bromley for £75,000, and Huntingdon bumper second Not Long Now to Evan Williams for £70,000. Similar vale sales by Fran Nimmo indicate no let up in the restocking by trainers as they prepare to re-energize their approach to the dominance of the Irish assault on our major races.