The seventh and final race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival promises to be an absolute cracker, with so many up-and-coming young chasers in opposition.
The weights for the Listed Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase sees the Kieren Burke-trained Hunt Ball sit at the top of the handicap on 12st, and few that have witnessed his rise up the ratings this term would be surprised at that.
The seven-year-old began his career with Mick Easterby in a Market Rasen bumper in 2009, finishing seventh, beaten 40 lengths and anyone placing Cheltenham bets will have not marked him out as one to watch.
His rapid improvement coincided with a move to Paddy Rodford just before he handed over the running of the yard to stable jockey Kieren Burke, and this season as a whole has been unbelievable, with six wins from seven starts, and his rating going up from 69 to 127 by the time he turned up at Kempton in February.
Barry Geraghty sat on Hunt Ball for the first time that day and had an armchair ride to say the least, as he demolished his nearest rival Cool Friend by 10 lengths. Having won most of his races this season over two miles and five furlongs, he will love the journey round Prestbury Park and the Cheltenham betting reflects this.
In addition he appears to handle any type of going, and is still on the upgrade, so what’s not to like. Unfortunately for Geraghty, he may well end up aboard the Henderson runner Triolo D’Alene, who to be fair, looked the part on his British debut at Ascot in January, but the French import would have perhaps been more fancied with another run under his belt, and so, with Hunt Ball on a roll at present, why desert him now?