Which is the best novice to watch for 2015 Gold Cup?
O’Faolains Boy won a thrilling duel with Smad Place to win the RSA Chase this week. The horse was another winner to emerge from the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot, a well-established Cheltenham trial.
Trainer Rebecca Curtis has always had a very high opinion of O’Faolains Boy and he had been a very promising novice hurdler last season. His Ascot win followed a very poor run at Haydock but the stable had been under a cloud at the time and that run can be safely ignored.
The runner-up has been switched to fences relatively late in his career after being placed in two World Hurdles. After unseating his rider at the last on his debut, the popular grey had won well at Exeter at Newbury.
Although Smad Place seems to have been around a long time, he is only seven years old and can clearly make his mark over fences. Irish raiders Morning Assembly and Ballycasey were back in third and fourth and give the form some depth.
Ballycasey’s chances were not helped when he made a mistake at the water jump and both horses may have appreciated softer ground. Morning Assembly never looked like getting to the front two but he stayed on well and is still improving.
There is little doubt that the race was among the better recent renewals of the top novice contest. Corrin Wood was given a very positive ride but found the competition too hot in the closing stages while fallers Don Cossack and Le Bec also look to have the potential to do well next season.
Many Clouds finished runner-up to O’Faolains Boy at Ascot and was unlucky to be brought down at Cheltenham. Oliver Sherwood’s gelding was still going reasonably well at the time and is highly regarded by connections.
O’Faolains Boy was having only his fourth start over fences and was given a perfect ride by Geraghty. He looks generously priced at 20-1 for the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup and the RSA Chase looks likely to produce several big race winners.