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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Hunt Ball out of Gold CupHeadlines
Hunt Ball

Hunt Ball is set to have his sights lowered after being officially scratched from the Betfred Gold Cup at Cheltenham next month.

The Keiran Burke-trained eight-year-old ran a fine race in defeat at Cheltenham last weekend when third to Cape Tribulation and Imperial Commander in the Argento Chase.

Second to Menorah in the Peterborough Chase prior to that at Kempton over Christmas, the career of the Anthony Knott-owned gelding has been a rags-to-riches tale, and he will now attempt to add to it in the Byrne Group Plate at the Festival meeting.

After winning a novice handicap chase at Folkestone off a mark of 69 in November 2011, Hunt Ball's rise continued last year, culminating in victory in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase at the Festival in March. He is now rated 157.

Colourful owner Knott, who has landed some touches and claimed to have backed his horse to win £1m in the Gold Cup, told At The Races: "There's no point in kidding ourselves. We want to place him in a race we can win out there and the race for that is the Byrne Plate.

"It's recoup some money time. This horse is going to have some wins by his name and that is an obvious race that would jump off the page."

Knott ruled out the possibility of supplementing Hunt Ball for the Ryanair Chase.

He went on: "Keiran wants to go there, but there's £13,500 now to stump up for that (at the supplementary stage) and at the end of the day I've done my money (on Hunt Ball in the Gold Cup) and I haven't had a run yet, so we are going to come down a little in class.

"I need to have a bet to recuperate some money and the obvious race for him is the Byrne Plate.

"If we had entered him in the Ryanair that would have been the race. The Byrne Plate is going to be an easier race than the Ryanair, but he had a really hard race at Cheltenham the other day and I don't want to bottom him again."

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