Nigel Twiston-Davies comes into the Open Meeting in great form and he will be hoping it continues in the form of Ballyfitz who is one of his two challengers for Saturday’s £150,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham and a good run is expected.
Coming out of his stable tour organised by Cheltenham Racecourse and sponsor Paddy Power, Twiston-Davies, who has already trained two winners of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, put his £500 charity bet provided by Paddy Power on Ballyfitz at 16/1 to win. The horse is now a 12/1 chance.
Twiston-Davies is the most successful current trainer at The Open, Cheltenham’s three-day meeting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (November 13 to 15), with 20 victories since 1990, including two Paddy Power Gold Cup wins - Tipping Tim (1992) and Imperial Commander (2008).
Twiston-Davies said today: “Ballyfitz has got the same sort of profile as my Paddy Power Gold Cup winner last year - Imperial Commander. “He is last season’s novice chaser and won two races at Cheltenham and then ran badly in his final run. “He has come back really well preparing for this season and it is the sort of race where the handicapper has not really got hold of them yet. “He is up and coming - I know he is not very young - as far as fences go and he is the one that has not been totally exposed.
“There is a lot of rain forecast - an inch before Saturday - and that would help his cause. He always travels very well in his races and there is no reason to think that he has to have three miles - the Pertemps Final and both his novice chase victories were over three - but he is never short of pace.
“We are very keen on his chances - he is a real battler and jumps well. And, obviously, if you look at his record, he likes Cheltenham - he has done more winning there than anywhere else. “I am very excited and don’t think we have seen the best of Ballyfitz yet. Paddy Brennan will ride.”
Ballyfitz is a lightly-raced nine-year-old and has won seven of his 15 races to date, while the Gloucestershire-based handler’s other runner in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, which takes place over two miles, four and half furlongs, is the 11-year-old Knowhere who finished third in the race two years ago.
Twiston-Davies added: “Knowhere is in the grip of the handicapper but again he loves Cheltenham and always runs well there. “He was third in the race two years ago. He has got a chance and will have 5lb off because of Tom Molloy’s claim.”
The latest Paddy Power Gold Cup Betting is Chapoturgeon 6/1, Poquelin 7/1, Tarotino 7/1, Tranquil Sea 7/1, Tatenen 8/1, My Petra 9/1, Northern Alliance 10/1, Ballyfitz 12/1, Tartak 14/1, From Dawn To Dusk 16/1, Watch My Back 16/1, Bible Lord 16/1, According To Pete 16/1, Akilak 20/1, I'm So Lucky 20/1, Hold Em 25/1, Three Mirrors 25/1, Jaamid 25/1, Our Vic 28/1, Il Duce 28/1, Pop 28/1, Gaelic Flight 28/1, Knowhere 33/1, Leslingtaylor 33/1, Commemoration Day 40/1, Island Life 40/1.