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‘A very special’ day as heroic Hunt Ball battles to famous victory

The Hunt Ball fairytale story continued as he secured his seventh victory of the season in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

Trained by Keiran Burke, the seven-year-old won off a mark of 69 on his first start of the campaign at Folkestone and was running in this fiercely competitive contest off 142 and with 12 stone on his back.

The 13-2 favourite was being pushed along by Nick Scholfield running down the hill, but responded to pressure and swept to the lead approaching the final fence.

He was big and bold at the final fence and powered up the hill to score by eight lengths from White Star Line.

Owen Glendower and Battle Group filled the places.

Burke, who rode Holmwood Legend to win the Byrne Group Plate at last year's Festival before beginning his training career, said: "I can't believe it.

"It happened to me last year and I don't know why it's happened again. It's incredible."

His hugely enthusiastic owner Anthony Knott, a dairy farmer from Dorset, said: "I told everyone he had two stone in hand and he did what I thought he would do.

"I told you all along, this is still the wrong race, we could have took the Gold Cup out!

"I can't get it in my head. What I said and what I thought he was capable of doing, has happened.

"I felt sick. I didn't think I'd be able to go home if he got beat as even the paperboy has backed him.

"I just hope everyone backed him. I told everyone he was a money making machine and that's what he is, I hope everyone has cleaned the bookies out!"

Scholfield, also securing his first Festival winner, said: "It's great for Anthony. He can go a bit over the top, but it's great to see.

"He hasn't jumped quite as well as he has done. It was a more competitive race today, but after two out he's come back on the bridle and picked up.

"It's a great job by Keiran Burke. He had the horse in top order.

"It's a very special day for me. You see all the lads coming in and think when is my day going to come, but thankfully it's come today."