Jonjo O’Neill: Holywell bouncing ahead of return to Aintree

Jonjo O’Neill reports Holywell to be flying at home ahead of his outing in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree on today.

Jonjo O’Neill: Holywell bouncing ahead of return to Aintree

Having put in a bold effort when finishing fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month on ground softer than ideal, the nine-year-old will bid to bounce back by hitting the mark in three-mile-one-furlong Grade One contest.

Should the Gay Smith-owned gelding prevail it would be the second year in succession he has won at the meeting after bolting up 12 months ago in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

O’Neill said of AP McCoy’s mount: “It was a great run (in the Gold Cup) and we were beaten fair and square. The ground went against us a bit and he put a lot into his jumping, he didn’t quite get home.

“He came back a bit tired the first week, but he is absolutely flying again now and we are very happy with him going there. He came alive there (Aintree) last year. It will be a tough race but he is going there in full health.”

Battle-hardened mare Ma Filleule is another looking for more Aintree glory after running away with the Topham Chase last year.

Stepping back up in trip having finished second in both the Ascot Chase and Ryanair Chase over two and a half miles, connections are hoping she can strike it lucky on her third outing in top-level company this season.

Anthony Bromley, bloodstock advisor to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: “Ma Filleule is going back to the same course and distance she raced over in December where they omitted about six fences.

“She seems to have taken Cheltenham in her stride. Nicky Henderson told us he is very happy with how she is and that she is in good form.

“The plan was to run in the Ryanair and then go for this race. We have always felt that this trip on a flat course is more ideal for her.”

The main danger to Holywell comes in the shape of the Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti, the beaten favourite from the Gold Cup where he was only seventh.

The nine-year-old won the Bowl 12 months ago and had previously landed the Betfair Chase and King George this season.

Nicholls said: “Silviniaco Conti was one of my biggest disappointments of the week at Cheltenham. He underperformed there in a way which left me wondering if he will ever win the Gold Cup.

“On the plus side he has a fine record on flat tracks and won this race a year ago on the back of defeat in the Gold Cup.

“As he has never been a morning glory in his work it is hard to put a handle on how well he is going at home since Cheltenham. But he appears to be in a good place at the moment, Aintree seems to suit him, a small field should help and he will love the drying ground.”

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