14.30 Aintree: O’Faolains fancied to follow-up
A fascinating renewal of the Mildmay Novices’ Chase which sees Cheltenham Festival winners Holywell and O’Faolains Boy go head-to-head, and the later is taken to come out on top.
O’Faolains Boy showed tremendous battling qualities to get up late and beat Smad Place by a neck in the RSA Chase, with the pair pulling six lengths clear of the rest.
The form looks strong, and it’s hard to see how Just A Par who finished a well-beaten ninth will turn the tables.
Rebecca Curtis’ charge also holds Many Clouds, who he beat by 2 1/2 lengths at Ascot on his final run before the Festival, and looks on an upward curve.
The seven-year-old also gets on extremely well with jockey Barry Geraghty, who has partnered him to his last two successes and rides the track as good as anyone.
It’s hard to pick holes in what looks a rock solid profile, and he looks the type who has plenty more to offer and could make up into a live contender for next year’s Gold Cup.
His main rival on paper is Holywell, who is bidding for a four-timer having won the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
Jonjo O’Neill’s seven-year-old found plenty on the run-in to beat Ma Filluel by 1 3/4 lengths, and was a very useful hurdler who should have more to offer over the larger obstacles.
He has a touch of class, as he showed when finishing second to Solwhit in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at this track last year, and looks sure to run a huge race in the hands of Richie McLernon.
The other runner that looks capable of throwing a spanner in the works is Irish raider Don Cossack.
He fell in the RSA won by O’Faolains Boy but had previously won two of his four starts over fences, including the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
The Gordon Elliott trained seven-year-old has always been held in the highest regard and this track should play to his strengths.
Granted a clear round he could prove a live threat to the “big two”.