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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Crus and Ball in Power fieldHeadlines
Grands Crus

Grands Crus and Hunt Ball are among 22 confirmations for Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, the first major handicap of the new National Hunt season.

David Pipe's grey disappointed when only fourth in the RSA Chase at the Festival on his final start of last year, but was subsequently reported to be a sick horse.

Hunt Ball was the success story of the season, rising 88lb in the handicap and finishing third in the Betfred Bowl on his final start of the season for fledgling trainer Keiran Burke.

Paul Nicholls holds a strong hand with Cheltenham regular Poquelin heading the weights while Al Ferof, a Grade One-winning novice last term, and Aerial also feature.

Nicky Henderson, Nicholls' big rival for the title this season, could run last year's runner-up Quantitativeeasing, Triolo d'Alene, Tanks For That and Nadiya De La Vega.

Walkon has been well backed in recent days for Alan King while Philip Hobbs has Wishfull Thinking and The Disengager among the possibles.

Calgary Bay could be Mick Channon's first runner in a major race since taking over some of Henrietta Knight's string while Forpadydeplasterer could be well handicapped on his old form.

Hunt Ball came through his last serious piece of work on Monday morning with flying colours and his connections could not be happier.

"He did his last serious work today ahead of the Paddy Power and he was very good, as good as gold, and I was very pleased," said Burke.

"I couldn't be happier and he is exactly where we want him before the Paddy Power."

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