Cheltenham - At The Races

14:10 Cheltenham 14 Mar 2018

RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5YO plus)

Winner £99,662 - 10 ran


3m 80y

Soft (Heavy in places)

View Course Guide

Weighed In

Gary Nutting
by Gary Nutting

Published 21st February

BALLYOPTIC was a high-class hurdler at his best and has done enough over fences to suggest he can make his mark in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’s gelding was let down by his jumping when disappointing in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle last year but has mostly impressed in that department over the larger obstacles which he seems to treat with more respect.

All-the-way winner on his chasing debut at Exeter, he again put in a series of assured leaps out in front at Cheltenham’s November meeting until a mistake at the last proved costly against the prolific Black Corton.

The latter was having his seventh start over fences that day, so had a definite advantage in terms of experience, yet it would have been close, had the rallying Ballyoptic not lost crucial momentum, considering there was only four lengths between them at the line.

The pair met again in the Kauto Star at Kempton, with Black Corton continuing his winning spree while the selection looked ill at ease round a sharp track that wouldn’t have played to his stamina strengths.

Better suited by a more galloping course, he got his career back on track with a decisive success in the Towton at Wetherby - the race that stablemate Blaklion won on route to RSA glory two years ago.

While it’s understandable the market sees Black Corton as the main threat to Irish favourites Monalee and Presenting Percy, at more than twice the price of Paul Nicholls’s charge, Ballyoptic represents a bit of value now he’s more streetwise in this sphere.

Ireland’s pair set a strong standard - both ran crackers at last year’s Festival over hurdles and appear to have transferred their form to fences - but that is reflected in their odds and this is a race I want to play each-way at a bigger price given the place terms are unlikely to change hugely on the day unless it attracts a rare big field.

Gary's Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):

RSA NOVICES' CHASE (Wednesday 14th March)

1pt each-way BALLYOPTIC (20/1 general - bet365 are Non-Runner No Bet)

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo

Previous Winners
Year Going Ran Winner Draw Age Weight OR Form Last run Trainer (Distance) Jockey SP Time
2017 Good to Soft 12 Might Bite 8 11 4 - 17-21F1 34 days N Henderson (51 miles) N De Boinville 7/2 6:08.70
2016 Good 8 Blaklion 7 11 4 - 4-4F121 39 days N Twiston-Davies (1 miles) R Hatch 8/1 6:05.70
2015 Good 8 Don Poli 6 11 4 - 111-211 72 days W P Mullins B J Cooper 13/8 6:09.20
2014 Good 15 O'Faolains Boy 7 11 4 - 114-2P1 25 days Miss R Curtis (124 miles) B J Geraghty 12/1 6:00.30
2013 Good to Soft 11 Lord Windermere 7 11 4 - 8-22123 32 days J H Culloty D N Russell 8/1 6:25.80
2012 Good 9 Bobs Worth 7 11 4 - 111-132 25 days N Henderson (51 miles) B J Geraghty 9/2 6:08.10
2011 Good 12 Bostons Angel 7 11 4 - P-21411 32 days Mrs J Harrington R M Power 16/1 6:16.60
2010 Good 10 Weapon's Amnesty 7 11 4 - 5-3F122 38 days C Byrnes D N Russell 10/1 6:13.60
2009 Good to Soft 15 Cooldine 7 11 4 - 14-8131 24 days W P Mullins R Walsh 9/4 6:22.90
2008 Good to Soft 11 Albertas Run 7 11 4 - 11-1211 26 days Jonjo O'Neill (1 miles) A P McCoy 4/1 6:23.70