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King George Hope, Hunt Ball, Returns to the Fray

Hunt Ball, the fairytale success story of last National Hunt season, sets out on the road to what the Betfair horse racing news expects to be the top of the tree this term when he contests Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, writes Elliot Slater.

Hunt Ball
© Racehorse Photos

Hunt Ball

The rags-to-riches chaser has the feature Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day as his first top level target this season, but first he will have to prove that he is still competitive off his massively increased rating, having begun last term as a modest novice chaser running off a mark of just 69.

He then began a series of remarkable handicap victories that took the Keiren Burke-trained gelding all the way to a famous success at the Cheltenham Festival in March, where he humped a massive 12 stones to victory under top weight and still won easily in the listed Pulteney Land Investments Novices Handicap Chase.

Raised to a mark of 154 following his stunning Cheltenham success – his seventh of the campaign – the gelded son of Winged Love then went on to tackle Grade 1 rivals at the Aintree Festival; he proved he was not out of place in such exalted company in finishing a close third to Ireland’s Follow The Plan in the Betfair Bowl.

Hunt Ball’s extrovert owner, Anthony Knott - who was fined for jumping onto the back of his beloved horse and riding him into the winners enclosure after a victory at Wincanton earlier this year – believes that his pride and joy will win the ‘King George’ before going on to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the spring.

At present, Hunt Ball is a best-priced 20/1 for the King George VI Chase and 25/1 for the blue riband showpiece at the home of jump racing in mid-March.

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