Hunt Ball to continue Cheltenham Festival preparations at Taunton
Hunt Ball will be among the star attractions at Taunton on Saturday as his preparations for the Cheltenham Gold Cup up a gear.
Trained by Keiran Burke of Henley near Crewkerne, the eight-year-old entered Festival folklore last year when Nick Scholfield guided him to glory in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices Handicap Steeple Chase.
Dorset owner Anthony Knott now wants to test the horse in the March event’s showpiece, with a run at Taunton’s most valuable meeting in the racecourse’s history next on the agenda.
Hunt Ball has been declared for the Read Paul Nicholls Exclusively on Betfair Open Handicap Steeple Chase. The Class Two race will be ran over two miles and three furlongs at 4pm, boasting bumper £30,000 prize pot.
Burke - who pleaded with Knott to target the shorter Ryanair Chase over the Gold Cup - said the weekend prize fund played a part in his decision.
“Obviously the prize money is a big attraction but he also needs a run before going to Cheltenham,” said Burke, who recently moved to his new home from Ash near Martock.
“Taunton is nice and local to us. I love the track and they have got a really good team of groundsmen who do a good job there so hopefully he will have a good run.”
Taunton chief executive Bob Young said: “This is the richest meeting in our 85-year history and is also our first Saturday meeting that we own. We hope to set a standard going forward.”