Age proved to be no barrier as former Scottish National winner Al Co rolled back the years to win the Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Cartmel Racecourse yesterday.

At 14 years old, Al Co, who was victorious at Ayr in 2014 off 40/1, was the oldest of the eight runners by a good margin, but just as he did five years ago, the French gelding defied the odds while making light of the worsening conditions.

Ridden by Henry Brooke, he was one of the outsiders in the market ahead the three-mile, five-furlong race at 25/1, but he outlasted his younger rides to finish ahead of Cruising Bye, and Sean Bowen, by four and a half lengths.

It was a spectacular return to action for Al Co, as it was his first race since last August and also his first under new trainer Oliver Greenall, who has his first Cartmel winner.

His previous trainer, Peter Bowen, cares for the horse he and Brooke held off, Cruising Bye, while Alain Cawley came in third on Silver Tassie.

After what was easily the best race of the second meeting of the season at Cartmel, Brooke said: “Obviously, he’s got plenty of spring in his step and I’m delighted.

“The boys fancied him, coming into the race - I know he’s outside of the lot and he’s 14, but we were trying to school him the other day and he was bucking and kicking and it’s been an ordeal keeping on him, if anything, at home.

“He obviously doesn’t want to be crowded, so I kept a bit of room and I knew I could afford to get wider because he’s such a horse of high class.”

It was also a successful day for holder of the Jockeys Challenge at the course Brian Hughes, who opened the day by being first past the post on Donald McCain-trained Onthefrontfoot, the 2/5 favourite in the novices’ hurdle, as he finished 12 lengths ahead of Sixties Star.

The Irishman then doubled up with another comfortable victory in the Handicap Chase, this time on Lord Wishes, trained by James Ewert, who was always easing ahead after moving into the lead five jumps out.

Hughes has won the Jockeys Challenge in four of the past five years and has given early notice that he has no intention of relinquishing that title, riding three winners with one day of the Whit meeting still remaining.

Hughes said: “I love Cartmel, it’s a happy hunting ground for me. I don’t think I’ve ridden one that’s been out of the first four yet, so long may that last, please God.

“I’m getting on the right type of horses and I enjoy riding around the place, so it’s great.”

Danny Cook came close to also bagging two winners on the day, as he claimed the Class 5 Handicap Hurdle on Chocolat Noir, trained by Penrith’s Martin Todhunter, as he overtook Too Much To Ask and Sean Quinlan on the run-in.

Cook was then in contention in the Louis Roederer Handicap Chase on Eyes Of A Tiger going into the final turn, but was unseated after his foot slipped out of the iron, giving Demi Sang and Richie McLernon an clear run.

Cook was forced to miss the following race, with Brooke replacing him on Ballyvic Boru, who eventually came in fourth.

In a day that saw several decisive victories, Gary Hanmer-trained Dee Star finished 12 lengths clear with Gina Andrews to take the Maiden Hunters’ chase ahead of Fateh and Jodie Hughes.

The final race of the day brought the closest finish as Jessiemac, ridden by Derek Fox and trained by Seamus Mullins, made up a three-length gap to chase down and overtake Oborne Lady and Billy Garritty to win the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle by half a length.

Cartmel trainer James Moffatt had just the one runner, with jockey Callum Bewley coming in fifth on She Got Fast in the Novices’ Hurdle, which was dedicated to the late trainer Kenneth Slack, who died aged just 51 in March.