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2013 Byrne Group Plate - Hunt Ball in 'best form ever' for Cheltenham Festival

Jon Wilde in Thur. 16th March 11 Mar 2013
Hunt Ball (red cap, blue sleeves) pictured winning at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Trainer Keiran Burke has revealed his stable star Hunt Ball is in the form of his life ahead of his bid for a second consecutive Cheltenham Festival success on Thursday.

The eight-year-old romped to victory in the novices’ handicap chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival to crown a season when he enjoyed a run of seven wins in eight starts and rose a massive 88lbs in the official ratings.

This term has not gone according to plan with Hunt Ball yet to score in three outings, but Burke is oozing confidence for the Byrne Group Plate.

“He’s in absolutely cracking order,” said the Dorset-based trainer. “He did a really good piece of work last Thursday and we couldn’t be happier with him.

“The way he worked and felt under me tipped me over the edge with him – he’s in the best form he’s ever been in.”

Hunt Ball will carry top weight of 11st 12lbs and his regular jockey Nick Scholfield will ride having returned from a Newbury fall with two mounts over the weekend, including a winner at Sandown on his first action back in the saddle.

“Nick definitely rides him despite missing a few days with injuries – he would ride him with one arm if he could,” added Burke.

“We were worried about the rain before, but after his run in the Argento Chase on soft ground where he was the last one off the bridle (did not stay the 3m 2f when third to Cape Tribulation) we aren’t as worried. It’s not ideal but I’m not too worried about it.

“It will take a good horse to beat him no matter what weight he has.”


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2013 Byrne Group Plate - Hunt Ball in "best form ever" for Cheltenham Festival

Trainer Keiran Burke has revealed his stable star Hunt Ball is in the form of his life ahead of his bid for a second consecutive Cheltenham Festival success on Thursday.

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