Hunt Ball going for Gold
Hunt Ball, one of the stories of the last National Hunt season, is being targeted at the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on November 17.
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Keiran Burke's stable star rattled off a remarkable seven wins last term that culminated with a stunning eight-length victory at The Festival in the Listed Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase, run over the same course and distance as the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old started his novice campaign racing off a mark of 69 and ended the season with a fine third in the Grade One Betfred Bowl at Aintree in April - a performance that elevated his official rating to 157.
Burke said: "I am very happy with Hunt Ball. He has come back from the summer bigger and stronger and he looks better than ever.
"I hope there is plenty more to come from him. He has obviously got to improve a fair bit to compete with the big boys, but in his last run at Aintree he was still showing improvement even after the long hard season he had.
"He ran a cracker at Aintree and I think if that had been his fourth or fifth race of the year, he would have probably gone and won as he came there very strongly but was just feeling the effects of a long season towards the end of the race.
"I'm pretty sure there is more improvement to come and he will start this season in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham. I think he probably wants to go further than that, but the Paddy Power Gold Cup will suit him and then after that we will look at all the big races.
"He will go for the King George at Kempton and then the owner has got a lot of money on him for the Gold Cup, so he will probably go there or the Ryanair, but I'm not sure what he will do in between.
"I think he can win the Paddy Power Gold Cup off his mark, but he is not the easiest horse to get fit as he is big horse. He will take a fair bit of work and we will give him a few racecourse gallops beforehand and try and get him as fit as we can."