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The Big Question: Is O’Faolains Boy under-estimated in RSA Chase?

The RSA Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham festival is generally regarded as a trial for future Gold Cup horses. Previous winners include Brown Chamberlin (1982), Garrison Savannah (1990), Looks Like Trouble (1999) and Denman (2007).

The most recent winner to go to win the Gold Cup was Bobs Worth in 2012. Some trainers believe the race is too tough a test for a young horse but it is regularly producing top class performers.

One of the key trial races for the RSA has always been the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot which has an equally impressive roll of honour. Champion Chase winner One Man, Gold Cup winners Little Owl and Mr Mulligan and Grand National winner Royal Athlete have all won the Ascot race.

This year’s renewal was won by O’Faolains Boy, trained by Rebecca Curtis in Newport. The race was billed as a clash between David Pipe’s Gevrey Chambertin and Oliver Sherwood’s Many Clouds.

Many Clouds had beaten Indian Castle by 16 lengths on his previous start and that horse went on to win a competitive Cheltenham handicap. Indian Castle is highly rated by Donald McCain and is favourite to lift one of next week’s big handicaps.

O’Faolains Boy beat Many Clouds by two and a half lengths under Barry Geraghty and was initially quoted at around 14-1 for the RSA. The reason for his price is possibly the fact that he pulled up on his previous start at Haydock.

The going was heavy that day and Curtis reported that O’Faolains Boy scoped badly immediately after the race. The stable were under a cloud at the time including World Hurdle hope At Fishers Cross but they have turned the corner in recent weeks.

He was a useful horse over hurdles, winning three races before finishing fourth to his stable companion in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. The seven-year-old son of Oscar is built for jumping and has already proved his stamina.

There does not appear to be particular confidence behind the favourite Ballycasey and Smad Place is changing codes quite late in his career. O’Faolains Boy looks exceptional each-way value to provide Curtis with a third festival winner.