Wood stars in very good show
Very Wood booked his ticket for a return visit to Cheltenham when hitting form with victory in the Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.
Noel Meade had nursed him back to health after the six-year-old was pulled up on his previous two starts and his hard work was rewarded with a Grade Two success.
The 13-2 chance had pleased connections in a piece of work that persuaded Bryan Cooper, retained jockey to owners Gigginstown House Stud, to choose him over Thunder And Roses.
His judgment proved right as last year's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle winner got the better of Noble Emperor by four and a half lengths after the duo dominated the three-mile race throughout.
"I don't know what was wrong with him. He can be a bit funny at home, but he has started looking better recently and felt better," said Meade.
"He worked well on the flat at Punchestown with Apache Stronghold and Texas Jack, and that has been nicely boosted since.
"He proved himself last year and three miles isn't really a problem - he ran up the hill at Cheltenham like he was going round the first time when he won the Albert Bartlett.
"That was quite incredible, so stamina is his forte. I think he'll jump better off better ground.
"He's a Cheltenham winner so he has to go back if he's all right. My initial reaction is to go for the four-miler, but it's up to Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) what they want to do."
The National Hunt Chase would be Cooper's choice and the jockey said: "For once I picked the right one. I picked him because he did a nice piece of work and thank goodness it paid off.
"I never thought we were going quick, but he got into a lovely rhythm and was jumping great. He'd be some ride in the four-miler if he went that way."
RaceBets make Very Wood 11-1 (from 16s) for the National Hunt Chase and 16-1 (from 40s) for the RSA Chase.