Flying Angel shows fighting qualities to take Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree
Flying Angel showed an admirable attitude to take his form to new heights and land the Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree.
Sixth in the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when virtually brought to a halt by a faller six out, the six-year-old bounced back to register his third win over fences and first at Grade One level.
Racing prominently throughout the two-and-a-half-mile contest, the 5-1 shot pressed on under Noel Fehily into a clear advantage past the weakening Frodon on the run to four out.
Despite being momentarily headed by Arkle runner-up Cloudy Dream over the last, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained gelding rallied to good effect to get back up and take victory by a length.
The winner was introduced at 25-1 for next year's Ryanair Chase by Paddy Power.
Twiston-Davies said: "He's very tough, he jumped well and did everything right.
"What would have happened at Cheltenham when he was so unlucky?
"All ground comes alike to him, it's wonderful."
Fehily said: "He toughed it out well. When Brian Hughes came looming up to me between the last two I thought I was in a little bit of trouble, but I knew my fellow wouldn't stop as he's so tough.
"I thought I was going OK at Cheltenham when he was badly hampered and I just nursed him home, I felt he'd have finished close that day - I'm not sure the lads believed me, but he's proven it today.
"He's a typical Nigel Twiston-Davies horse, he's fit, he stays, he jumps and he's tough so it's wise to make good use of him."
Twiston-Davies added: "It was our worst Cheltenham ever. I spent the whole time in hospital with my son (Willy), who should have been riding him today.
"As Noel says, would he have won at Cheltenham? Probably. It's a great shame, but we've got a consolation.
"He was really gutsy. They went no gallop at all and it would have helped if there'd been more of a gallop.
"I was really worried whether he should have gone for the two-mile race, but he's done it well and we're chuffed to bits.
"I wouldn't have thought he'll run again this season. Next season he could go to the top, hopefully. The Ryanair (Chase) might be a race for him, but he looks like a stayer.
"We won't be making too many predictions, but he's a really exciting horse.
"He's got all the attributes."
Cloudy Dream's trainer Malcolm Jefferson was philosophical about filling the runner-up spot again: "We're disappointed not to win, especially after finishing second at Cheltenham, but somebody had to be second and he's still run a cracking race.
"I don't know if we'll run him again (this season). There's the Future Champions at Ayr, but I'd have to be very happy with him to run as he's run in two Grade Ones now and I wouldn't want to disappoint him. You can get to the bottom of them running in these big races.
"You can't say he's run below Cheltenham. He's taken on very good horses again."
Nicky Henderson said of the beaten favourite Top Notch, who finished third: "He's been on the go since he and Charbel and Le Prezien had that battle at Uttoxeter, which is quite a while ago.
"He's had a long season and hasn't run as well as he did at Cheltenham, but he still ran a good race."