Ballyoptic will go on trial for the World Hurdle at Newbury on Friday
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
By Graham Dench 7:18AM 25 NOV 2016
NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES is hoping last season’s Aintree Grade 1 novice winner Ballyoptic can gain compensation for a costly slip at Wetherby that was not his fault and confirm himself a serious candidate for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
However, the six-year-old faces tough opposition, headed by fellow Grade 1-winning novice Unowhatimeanharry, progressive Irish challenger Snow Falcon and veteran Reve De Sivola.
The jury is out on whether Ballyoptic would have won Wetherby’s West Yorkshire Hurdle but for the mishap, but he would have been thereabouts and had already won a hot handicap at Chepstow, so is clearly in rude health.
Twiston-Davies is understandably optimistic and said: “Ballyoptic jumped the hurdle all right but slipped on landing two strides after it, but it hasn’t dented his confidence as he’s schooled well since.
“We think he’d have won that day, but we would wouldn’t we? He was going very well though, and the softer ground will help here. I’m very happy with him.”
Also in the field is another Grade 1 novice winner lasr season, Unowhatimeanharry, now racing for JP McManus. He has 10lb to find on Ballyoptic according to official ratings, but he was hugely progressive when going through last season unbeaten and there is no telling what the limit of his ability might be.
The Wetherby race was once pencilled in for his return, but the ground was too quick there. However, it was then too testing for a first run of the season at Haydock last Saturday.
The going on the hurdles course at Newbury is soft, good to soft in places, hopefully enough of a happy medium for Unowhatimeanharry to take his chance. It is slightly quicker (good to soft, soft in places) on the chase course.