O'Faolains Boy (left) and Smad Place jump the final fence togetherPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Boy inches out Smad in tremendous RSA battle
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Wednesday
RSA Chase (Grade 1) 3m½f, 5yo+ Old Course
O'FAOLAINS BOY prevailed in a tremendous head-to-head with Smad Place to land the RSA Chase in the final few strides.
Trained by Rebecca Curtis and ridden by Barry Geraghty, O'Faolains Boy had crept into contention and launched his challenge at Smad Place approaching the final fence, before edging out the grey in the run to the line.
Corrin Wood was determined to set the pace and went off in determined fashion although the powerful jumping display he showed when winning last time was not enough to shake off his rivals on this occasion and he weakened in the closing stages.
Mistakes prevented a number of horses getting involved at the end of the race with Carlingford Lough making errors at many fences, Ballycasey leaving his legs behind in the water jump, Don Cossack tumbling, Many Clouds hampered by the fall of Black Thunder and Le Bec crashing to the floor when crowded for room at the top of the hill for the second time.
What marked out the first two was their ability to jump and travel and turning for home Smad Place had moved into the lead under jockey Robert Thornton.
O'Faolains Boy had been making stealthy progress for Geraghty and the seven-year-old, who bounced back to form last time at Ascot, bounded alongside the leader at the final fence.
A terrific tussle began with Smad Place narrowly in front and O'Faolains Boy being given a never-say-die ride by Geraghty. In the end, O'Faolains Boy had just enough to claim victory.
Curtis said: "It's amazing to get another winner at the Cheltenham Festival. Before Christmas things were not too great but we have peaked at the right time so we were quite hopeful, though we knew it was a very, very good race."