Exciting Angel can go all the way to the top says Twiston-Davies
Cheltenham could not have gone any worse but Aintree could not have started any better, thanks to the tenacious Flying Angel.
It was bad enough Nigel Twiston-Davies should fail to win a race at the festival, a meeting run on on his doorstep and at which he has struck 17 times in a highly successful training career.
But he also had the agony of seeing his son Willy suffer a back injury in a fall that will keep him out until the autumn.
"It was my worst Cheltenham ever," the trainer reflected. "I spent the whole time in hospital with my son, who should have been riding him today."
Flying Angel typified his ill-luck, losing all chance when badly hampered in the JLT Novices' Chase. But he signalled an upturn in fortunes three weeks on with a gutsy Aintree effort.
Challengers were queuing up in behind as they turned for home and Cloudy Dream actually led briefly at the last fence, but Flying Angel fought back splendidly to score by a length under Noel Fehily.
"That's what we wanted to start the week," Twiston-Davies said. "It's what we were hoping for and it shows how unlucky we were at Cheltenham.
"He had no chance there, a horse fell in front of him. It knocked him from handy to tailed off and he just hacked round and finished sixth. What a consolation.
"I wouldn't have thought he'll run again this season and I hope he'll go to the top next season. He's a really exciting horse. He was a really classy hurdler. He has all the attributes."
Flying Angel earned a 25-1 quote for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next March and is a horse Willy Twiston-Davies is looking forward to getting back on.
The jockey has had two rods inserted in his back but hopes to return to action in September, and said: "He's a really nice horse – I won the Kingmaker on him – he jumps fantastically."
Brian Hughes's mount Cloudy Dream had also finished second to Altior in the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham but did not entirely impress at the fences this time.
"He's run another lovely race, but it was just his jumping," said trainer Malcolm Jefferson.
"He missed out a couple, including in the straight. He can get a bit keen too. You could see Brian was having to restrain him."