Anthony Knott hopes Hunt Ball will hit right notes in Paddy Power Gold Cup
You have seen the horse, you know the owner - now listen to the CD. Not many racehorses have songs written about them but the exploits of Hunt Ball and his effervescent owner Anthony Knott have given life to a record.
The lyrics are based on Knott’s sayings about the Somerset chaser during his meteoric progress from maiden to one of the most feted horses in training - second only in popularity this year to Frankel.
“Lump on - watch your money grow. The legend has just begun,” are familiar words on the record by Hot Rod 57 now on general release.
Dorset dairy-farmer Knott thinks the song is great fun – and he was equally chuffed at the reception he, trainer Keiran Burke and the horse received during the Hunt Ball raceday at Fontwell Park on Friday which celebrated the seven-year-old’s amazing 2011-12 campaign.
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But on Saturday the talking will stop when Hunt Ball makes his seasonal reappearance in the £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase over an extended two miles and four furlongs at Cheltenham.
Burke’s charge has already proved himself over the Cheltenham trip with his runaway performance under 12st at the last Festival. A reproduction of that form carrying 11st 6lb means the gelding from Ash must go close to victory.
Knott said: “Keiran has got him spot on. Everything has gone to plan. We know Hunt Ball will stay every inch and provided we get the run of the race and he stays on his feet it’s a question of whether he is good enough but he is there to win the race.
“Can he improve again? Definitely yes, he’s lethal at this trip and he’s a fresh horse. Last time he ran was at Grade One level at Aintree and he was third but could have been second. Now he’s gone down in grade to a handicap.”
Hunt Ball is 11-2 second favourite in the sponsor’s ante-post market behind David Pipe’s Grands Crus (9-4) and provided Saturday goes well the next step towards a crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup would be Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.
Despite his excellent record at Cheltenham Poquelin has never won the Paddy Power for Paul Nicholls but just as last year he will carry top weight for the trainer. At Monday’s five-day stage Nicholls also had Al Ferof and Aerial among the 22 acceptors.
Nicholls was runner-up in the listed Badger Ales Handicap Chase after Michel Le Bon was outstayed by Pipe’s The Package at Wincanton on Saturday but following Zarkandar’s success in the Elite Hurdle the Somerset handler doubled up with bumper winner Foggy Wall.
Colin Tizzard (Milborne Port) landed the opening novice hurdle with Kings Lad for Charlton Musgrove owners Graham and Sylvia Gingell. The Tizzard clan struck again in the mares’ handicap hurdle through Miss Milborne, bred by Colin’s brother Robert and his wife Sarah.