Holywell galloped his rivals into submission to run out an impressive winner of the Betfred Mobile Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree.

Jonjo O'Neill's smart hurdler took a while to get the hang of things over fences, but has hit top form since the turn of the year, winning at Catterick and Doncaster before striking in handicap company at the Cheltenham Festival for the second time.

Stepped up to Grade One level for the first time over the larger obstacles, Holywell was given an aggressive ride from the front under Tony McCoy and the 7-2 chance answered the champion jockey's every call.

His rivals were queuing up to challenge at the top of the home straight, but two more slick jumps from Holywell kept him in command and he began to assert onto the run to the final obstacle.

O'Neill's charge produced another extravagant leap to seal the deal and passed the post with 10 lengths in hand over Irish raider Don Cossack.

Wonderful Charm came through to finish third ahead of Many Clouds.

RSA Chase winner and 3-1 favourite O'Faolains Boy ran as though his Cheltenham exertions had taken their toll, weakening into fifth place.

McCoy said: "He likes to be up there with a bit of room and to know where he is.

"In a few of his early races I was trying to teach him to jump and race, but he just likes to be ridden aggressively.

"I would never have said he was (a Gold Cup horse) before, but he's beaten them pretty convincingly and last year's best staying novice won the Gold Cup (Lord Windermere) and on form he's probably the best one this year.”

O'Neill said: "We'll aim him for the big races. He's not a very big horse so my only worry would be him carrying big weights in handicaps.

"He's a real trier and a tough little devil and he's a character at home. He's always bucking and kicking. He was showing us he was really well.

"We couldn't see any reason not to come but you're always worried if a hard race at Cheltenham might leave its mark.

"He was fantastic today and AP (McCoy) was giving him some drive.

"He's a Jack the Lad and definitely needs the blinkers. Everything went spot on today."

Trainer Gordon Elliott was happy with the performance of runner-up Don Cossack on the back of his fall in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

"I thought he ran a very good race. He was probably a bit unlucky with what happened at Cheltenham but he jumped great and if you took the winner out, he's beaten the rest a fair way. He'll go for the three-mile novice at Punchestown," he said.

Paul Nicholls, responsible for the third home, Wonderful Charm, said: "We tried three miles but Sam said he travels more like a two-and-a-half horse.

"He hasn't had many races, but the only one left we'd look at would be a two-mile-five at Cheltenham's next meeting."