Perseverance paid off for Niall Houlihan on the Ben Pauling-trained Not At Present at Fontwell races. Horse and rider kept on tenaciously to battle past three rivals
A jockey has scooped a special prize for an astonishing 999-1 win in tough conditions.
Niall Houlihan was rewarded for his determined effort on Not At Present, who snatched victory in the Fontwell mud.
Such a performance seemed so unlikely that the Ben Pauling-trained runner reached the maximum odds on the exchanges during the race.
A distant fourth on the home turn, horse and jockey were ten lengths behind the leaders.
Racing over 3m 2f, one of the longer distances in horse racing, on soft ground, the deficit looked too much to make up.
The Tin Miner and Khan went head-to-head, with rival Certainly Red placed to take advantage of any mishaps.
But Not At Present, in the back of the TV picture at the second last, took off in pursuit of the trio after the final flight.
The Boxing Day crowd could be heard cheering their horses in the exciting finish, noise which became louder as the late challenger emerged.
Not At Present stormed through in the centre of the track to beat Khan by three-quarters of a length – his third win on the trot.
Yesterday Houlihan learned he had been awarded At The Races’ ‘ride of the month’ prize after a public vote.
“Delighted” by the recognition via social media, he won £500 and donated the same amount to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund.
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to quicken on the ground but that I’d stay really well,” Houlihan told Sky Sports Racing after dismounting the horse.
“As soon as they stopped he just kept galloping. It’s purely down to his attitude.
“I was just trying to use his stamina and keep him close, so that I could challenge at some stage. Sometimes you’ve just got to keep going and hope.”
Just days ago, jockey Kevin Jones also impressed racing fans when he galvanised a favourite to land some decent bets.
He took Global Agreement to the stands side rail up the Wetherby run-in – and the 7-4 shot charged home to pip the runner-up.
And last month, there was another 999-1 shock, when An Forghas and jockey James Conheady stunned the opposition in an Irish bumper.