★ ★ ★
Following his win in the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase in the first day of the 2014 Festival, Holywell was rated as the best Staying Novice Chaser in Britain and Ireland, a status he brilliantly reinforced when AP rode him to win Aintree's Mildmay Novices Chase by 10 lengths.
This was Holywell’s second consecutive win at the Festival, having landed the Pertemps Hurdle Final in 2013. Paul Smith, son of owner Derrick Smith was at Cheltenham to receive the trophy on his mother’s behalf and we were delighted for the family who owned 2003 JCB Triumph Hurdle winner, Spectroscope. Holywell followed that up with a spectacular win in the Mildmay Novices Chase, ridden from the front by AP, beating Don Cossack
The 2014-15 season followed a similar pattern with Holywell taking time to come to himself and show his true form when winning at Kelso in February. That confirmed his place in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. Partnered again by Richie Mclernon, he put in a tremendous performance to be in the leading group all the way and finish a very creditable fourth. He followed that up with an equally good run in the Betfair Bowl at Aintree, finishing third, bringing his career earnings to £277,519.
For the following season Jonjo had little option but campaign him in the Charlie Hall and Betfair Chase before finding just one too good for him in the 2016 Ultima Chase at the Festival. Hopes that Holywell would put indifferent form behind him at the 2017 Festival were dashed when he spread a plate and managed to tread on the nail with a circuit to go when bidding to retain the Ultima title.
Holywell was given a great send off by the team at Jackdaws when Derrick and Gay Smith agreed with Jonjo that the time had come to call time on his career. We wish him a long and happy retirement in Ireland on Richie's family's farm.