Ballyoptic the answer to Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury
Ballyoptic tough to beat in Newbury showpiece
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has his team in terrific shape and Ballyoptic looks a worthy favourite to provide him with another winner in the feature race on a cracking Friday card at Newbury, the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle (14.10).
The gelding was a winning pointer in Ireland and took to hurdling like a duck to water last season when joining the Naunton-based handler, winning all three of his starts.
In the last of those, Ballyoptic showed a tremendous attitude to rally gamely and get back up to beat Bellshill by a neck in a Grade 1 contest at Aintree.
It was a performance which suggested the six-year-old was one to keep onside, and that view was confirmed when Ballyoptic landed the valuable Silver Trophy Handicap on his return to action at Chepstow.
The son of Old Vic kept on strongly to score by 1 1/4 lengths, with some useful and well-treated sorts in behind.
Unlucky at Wetherby
Ballyoptic was then in the process of running a huge race when coming to grief at the last in the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, when last seen in action.
Although about three lengths down at the time, he was rallying strongly only to stumble on landing, and to my eyes would have gone on to land the spoils had he stood on his feet.
The form of the race has also been given a boost, with the eventual third home Lil Rockerfeller having since come out and run a blinder to be beaten just 3/4 of a length by the exciting Yanworth in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot.
Providing he is none the worse for what was an unfortunate tumble having appeared to jump the final flight fine, this looks a nice opportunity for the hugely promising Ballyoptic to get back to winning ways en route to even better things.
Reve de Sivola sure to give it his best shot
Reve De Sivola has been a tremendous servant over the years for connections and looks sure to make a bold bid to land another big prize.
The Nick Williams trained 11-year-old has won eight of his 29 starts over hurdles and has also been placed on eight occasions.
Five of those wins have come at Grade 1 level, three in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, and the veteran ran well in lat year’s renewal of that contest when an eight length runner-up to Thistlecrack.
Judge on that effort he commands plenty of respect, but Reve De Sivola is not getting any younger and giving 4lb to an up-and-coming type like Ballyoptic is a tough ask.
Unowhatimeanharry not to be underestimated in Newbury Long Distance Hurdle tips
Unowhatimeanharry was a revelation last season when unbeaten in five starts and looks a big player for trainer Harry Fry.
After winning a handicap at Cheltenham on seasonal reappearance off a mark of 123, the eight-year-old progressed at a rate of knots to round off the campaign with victory in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival off an official rating of 152.
The form of the latter has not worked out particularly well, but Unowhatimeanharry could do no more than win and is a really likeable type who may well have more to offer.
Coral’s top tip: Ballyoptic lost his unbeaten record over hurdles when falling last time out but looks a highly-promising young stayer and rates a solid bet to get back to winning ways.
While, you can also check out our tasty Newbury tips for Friday.