Keiran Burke believes Hunt Ball can continue his improvement in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham
Last Updated: 08/11/12 2:57pm
Hunt Ball: Paddy Power hopeful after a fine season last year
Trainer Keiran Burke believes Hunt Ball can continue his jaw-dropping improvement as he prepares for a crack at Paddy Power Gold Cup glory on Saturday week.
The Anthony Knott-owned gelding came to prominence last term after a meteoric rise through the ratings, progressing from an initial winning mark of 69 at Folkestone in November to a perch of 157 at the end of the campaign.
Hunt Ball secured a Listed novice chase victory in impressive style at the Cheltenham Festival, before finishing third to Follow The Plan in the Grade One Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree.
"He has been good since he has come back," said the Somerset-based Burke.
"He is quite big, but he has grown and he has definitely got a lot stronger.
"He is up against some tough horses in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, most notably Grands Crus and For Non Stop, who looked very good at Aintree last time out.
"He seems to like Cheltenham, though, especially after winning at the Festival earlier in the year.
"We are generally very confident in him and we hope he runs another big race for us.
"He had such a progressive season last year, but there is no reason I can think of to suggest he cannot do it again.
"It will be a lot more difficult, though.
"There is an added pressure on us this year because of what he achieved last season, but I am pretty sure he can thrive on that and keep on improving."