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Hunt Ball Winner

Hunt Ball's owner Anthony Knott wants to target the Byrne Group Plate

  PICTURE: Matthew Webb  

Gold Cup dream over for Hunt Ball, admits Knott

HUNT BALL has been scratched from the Betfred Gold Cup with connections accepting the 3m2½f trip is just too far for last season's handicap hotpot. The Byrne Group Plate over 2m5f has been proposed as a Festival alternative.

Knott said: "I've just spoken to Keiran [Burke, trainer] and with the next payment due we decided it was a waste of time to leave him in [the Gold Cup]. I've backed him to win a million but there's no point kidding ourselves, we want to place him in a race we can win and the race that does that is the Byrne Group Plate.

"It's recoup money time, he needs some wins by his name and obviously there are no easy races - that is the one that jumps off the page for him."

It seems owner and trainer disagree on that matter as Knott, who was speaking on At The Races, added: "Keiran wants to go for the Ryanair but it's £13,500 to sub up for that.

"Obviously I've already done my money and not even had a run yet so we'll come down in class and I need to get a bet on to recoup the money I've lost and the obvious race for that is the Byrne Group Plate.

"If we'd entered him for the Ryanair then that'd be the race to go for but the Byrne Group Plate will be an easier race. He had a hard race the other day and I don't want to bottom him out again so we'll go for an easy race and then we could go to Aintree for the Bowl that he ran so well in last year or back to Cheltenham for their final meeting of the year.

"He took a few days to get over his recent run and I love the horse, so I don't want that again for him on soft ground so we'll come back in trip for the time being and look after him.

"Back down in trip he'll look lethal, and even on the wrong ground I think he'll have plenty in hand. He'll be off 11st 10lb or 12st but he did that last year, and there may be one or two that sneak in at the bottom of the weights, but we feel he'll be able to take care of them."

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