Ballyfitz advertised his Royal & SunAlliance Chase claims for the Cheltenham Festival with an all-the-way win in the Sir Tristram Ricketts Novices' Chase. Now unbeaten in two starts this season, the eight-year-old has been cut to 16-1 (from 25-1) with most firms for his March target.
Surprised to hear that he is still such a reasonably big price for the Festival, winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "That was exciting. The bookies clearly weren't impressed but all he could do was give seven pounds to that lot and absolutely thrash them. I'm delighted with him. "The important thing is he really stays. Very few horses will jump round there in this ground and still finish on the bridle."
Referring to Ballyfitz's single mistake on the second circuit in an otherwise faultless round, he said: "In that ground you're always going to nudge a fence, you can't be perfect at every one. "He'll come back for the next meeting and keep practising here so we get it right for the Cheltenham Festival. " Asked if he thought his charge should be favourite for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, Twiston-Davies joked: " I don't really give a monkey's.
No, I think he should be 50-1 and I'll have £100 on him. " Jockey Paddy Brennan added: "He did it very well and I'm really pleased for the horse and the yard. "He stays very well and we wanted a good test which is why I made the running. He does not need to go from the front as he has proved before - it is a question of keeping him in one piece and whether he is good enough for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase."