Will Ballyoptic continue resurgence?

Will Ballyoptic continue resurgence?

Ballyoptic continued his bright start to the National Hunt season with his second victory on the bounce, winning the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby Racecourse. The Irish thoroughbred had ended the previous campaign on a low note, but has bounced back to form ready for an assault on the leading races in the upcoming schedule.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has opportunities to make his mark in meets at Haydock Park and Newbury Racecourse towards the end of November, and is one of the leading contenders in the horse racing betting odds to at least challenge for one of the crowns. He has the ability, but whether he can rise to the occasion on the major stage remains to be seen, especially after his woes in the last campaign.

Ballyoptic began the 2018/19 season at the Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree in December. He was the leading contender in the minds of the bookies entering the race. The Irish thoroughbred had trouble settling at the start of the race for jockey Thomas Bellamy and the omens were there for an underwhelming outing. He made a decent start to the contest and was in pursuit of the leading pack, only to fall at the 10th fence of the meet.

The nine-year-old was fine to compete in the Welsh Grand National just three weeks later at Chepstow. His odds were affected by his fall at Aintree, and although he put in an improved performance, it was still not good enough to compete for the victory. Ballyoptic finished in sixth place as he was made to rue mistakes down the stretch that knocked him out of contention.

Matters got worse for Twiston-Davies charge at the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park. He struggled for rhythm during the contest and pulled up at the 14th fence. Despite his lack of form, the Irish thoroughbred still competed in the Grand National at Aintree. He was competitive with Bellamy at the reins, although he never came close to challenging Tiger Roll. Ballyoptic’s charge ended with a fall at the 27th fence, ending a miserable campaign for the bay gelding.

There was pressure on Ballyoptic to prove a point at the start of the new season in his first outing at Chepstow in the Native River Handicap Chase. He was not the bookies’ favourite for the contest, but delivered a fine performance to get back to winning ways with Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle to canter to the victory by nine lengths. It was his first triumph since February 2018 and the perfect tonic to wash away the troubles of the previous term.

The Irish thoroughbred was able to build on his outing with an even stronger stint at Wetherby to win the Charlie Hall Chase. He faced off against a talented field, including La Bague Au Roi. However, he rose to the task at hand once again with Sam Twiston-Davies at the reins. Ballyoptic made a steady start to the contest and moved into position to strike towards the closing stages. He had the pace to power away from the field, beating out his nearest rival Elegant Escape by three-and-a-quarter lengths. It was arguably the best outing of his career, and the nine-year-old now needs to capitalise on his form to add further elite crowns to his name.