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2013 Byrne Group Plate: Hunt Ball trainer does not fear favourite Ballynagour

Jon Wilde in Thur. 16th March 13 Mar 2013
Hunt Ball (red cap, light blue sleeves) winning at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Keiran Burke, trainer of Byrne Group Plate contender Hunt Ball, does not see warm favourite Ballynagour as the main threat to his charge’s hopes of a Cheltenham Festival double.

Hunt Ball won at last year’s Cheltenham Festival in the novices’ handicap chase and bids to make it back-to-back triumphs over the same track and trip, albeit this time on the New Course as opposed to the Old Course.

The eight-year-old defied 12st at last year's meeting and will again be saddled with top weight of 11st 12lb.

He will not only be stepping back in trip but also down in class after contesting races such as the Argento Chase, in which he finished third when a non-stayer on testing ground, over the winter.

Burke said: "The drying ground is definitely in our favour and it will be fresh ground as well - it's nice to see that going our way finally.

“He carried plenty of weight to win at the Festival last year, so he's proven on that score and also around the track and at the Festival, which quite a few winners on the first day were, so that's a nice boost for our confidence.

"He's in the form of his life at the moment. He looks a million dollars and did some nice pieces of work last week.

"We took him down to the beach to freshen him up and we couldn't be happier with him."

David Pipe's Ballynagour heads the market after his 19-length stroll at Warwick last month on his English debut but he is not the rival Burke fears most.

The Dorset trainer rates the chances of Paul Webber's Cantlow and Alan King-trained Walkon higher than those of Ballynagour, but believes all will struggle to beat his candidate.

"I'm not sure Ballynagour is the biggest danger - I think something like Cantlow or Walkon could run a big race,” said Burke.

"There's lots of good horses in there but ours has been placed at Grade One level and is running in a handicap here, so it will take a very good horse to beat ours.”

Byrne Group Plate betting (BetVictor):

  7/2 Ballynagour 
15/2 Cantlow 
15/2 Hunt Ball 
10/1 Sweet My Lord 
12/1 Vino Griego 
12/1 Walkon 
14/1 bar


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2013 Byrne Group Plate: Hunt Ball trainer does not fear favourite Ballynagour

Keiran Burke, trainer of Byrne Group Plate contender Hunt Ball, does not see warm favourite Ballynagour as the main threat to his charge’s hopes of a Cheltenham Festival double.

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