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Holywell is back on the trail for Gold


Jonjo O'Neill, trainer

Jonjo O'Neill, trainer

Jonjo O'Neill, trainer

Jonjo O'Neill was delighted to see Holywell (pictured) get his career back on track and earn himself a shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup with a bloodless success under Tony McCoy at Kelso.

The eight-year-old was victorious in handicap company at Prestbury Park last March and after showing his worth at the top level with a brilliant display at Aintree's Grand National meeting, dreams of a tilt at steeple chasing's blue riband were sparked.

While a Carlisle comeback third behind subsequent Hennessy hero Many Clouds was satisfactory, his failure to complete at Aintree in December was less so and there was no margin for error as he journeyed to the Borders as a 1-4 favourite for the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase.

Having dictated matters from the outset, Holywell turned up the heat heading down the back straight and it was soon apparent his rivals were struggling to keep up.

He safely negotiated the remaining fences under the soon-to-retire champion jockey and passed the post 25 lengths clear of Fentara, with Diocles third and Rose Of The Moon last of the four.

Paddy Power responded by clipping Holywell to 8-1 from 9-1 for the Gold Cup on March 13 with Coral leaving him unchanged at 10-1.

Speaking from his Jackdaws Castle base, O'Neill said: "He had to go and do what he did really, so it's nice he's gone up there and done it and you'd have to be happy.

"You would have expected him to do what he did, but it's nice to have got the run in and he did all he could do.

"He's economical with his jumping. He's never going to be the most extravagant."