ON a bitterly cold winter's afternoon, a veteran showed a glimpse of an Indian summer by winning a valuable race at Sandown on Saturday.

Paul Henderson's quirkily named Doitforthevillage belied his 12-years by galloping strongly up the hill to land a £7,000 handicap after surviving a major blunder midway through the race.

The Whitsbury trainer's flagship had ironically only run five days earlier in another chase at Newbury when it appeared that years were finally catching up with him by only finishing fifth nearly 30 lengths adrift of the winner but Richard Johnson, who rode him, reported the ground was a bit too fast and looked after him.

"The ground was certainly quicker than they said it was, " said Henderson. " Richard thought he was struggling on it and didn't batter him to the line.

"When the ground is that quick, it does put his jumping under pressure."

The trainer, who normally does not run his team so soon after a race, knows it takes him to get two races to get him spot on and the horse was showing his old spark and ability at home that he decided to run him at Sandown where he knew the ground, predominately soft, heavy in places, would play to his strengths.

"He is a relentless galloper and jumper," Henderson said of his attributes. "He is such a big horse, he stands at 17 2in, and has the weight and size that enables to survive that mistake.

"In fact, he breasted the fence and got away with it.

"He did that once before at Exeter when he went through a fence which had to be put out of action for the rest of the day!"

The Sandown success was his eighth in 30 starts, a remarkable achievement for a horse who was bought for only £14,000 and has earned £150,000 in prize money in a career part bedevilled by lymphangitis which makes him susceptible to infections and put him out of action for the best part of a year.

It also secured him a qualification for a major race at Haydock in April, though the Topham Trophy at Aintree's Grand National meeting, in which he once finished third, is a tempting alternative.

Henderson plans to give him a couple of races before determining which he will target and as an experiment might run him over a couple of further than the two and a mile races, in which he excels at a flat track, like Newbury or Ascot.