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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Twiston-Davies confident ahead of Ballyoptic chasing debut

Ballyoptic: makes his eagerly anticipated chasing debut
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2.35 Exeter Novices' Chase | 3m54y | 4yo+ | RUK

Five days later than first anticipated Ballyoptic makes his chasing debut in a much deeper race than the match he left at Stratford on Thursday when a non-runner.

A handful of better hurdlers will go chasing this season, but not many debuts over fences will be more keenly anticipated. Ballyoptic featured prominently in some top staying hurdles last season, but his jumping often prevented him taking a stronger hand. 

His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "Admittedly it's a lot tougher than Stratford would have been – the ground there was a bit firm on the take-offs and landings – but he still has 9lb in hand on BHA hurdles marks so we should be alright."

Addressing the question of Ballyoptic's occasionally sketchy jumping, Twiston-Davies said: "He's schooled very well, he's a big, strong horse and has probably always been more of a chaser."

Barney Dwan (blue and yellow quarters) chases home Presenting Percy in the Pertemps

As Twiston-Davies alluded to, the horse nearest to Ballyoptic's 155 hurdles rating is Barney Dwan, who was second in the Pertemps Final last season and whose trainer Fergal O'Brien enjoyed perhaps his greatest success when Colin's Sister won the West Yorkshire Hurdle on Saturday.

This race has existed only for three years but has delivered useful winners on each occasion, none better than Native River, who was successful two seasons ago for Colin Tizzard.

The same yard is represented by Elegant Escape, who like Native River gained his first experience at Chepstow's October meeting. That was a career-best on RPRs on his first run over fences, a promising sign for one who is bred to be a chaser on his dam's side.

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He's schooled very well, he's a big, strong horse and has probably always been more of a chaser
E.W. Terms
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