sport

Ball in the Hunt for handicaps

Hunt Ball's options at Cheltenham have been narrowed down to the Festival Handicap Chase and the Byrne Group Plate.

On his first run for Nicky Henderson since arriving back from America, Hunt Ball finished a respectable third to Captain Chris in the Grade One Ascot Chase.

Winner of the Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase in 2012 when trained by Keiran Burke, the nine-year-old has been dropped to a mark of 155 and will either run over three miles on the opening day of the showpiece meeting or two and a miles on the Thursday.

Stephen Price, of owners Atlantic Equine, said: "He had a few detractors on social media in America after his Ascot run, but I thought he ran really well.

"He just blew up good and proper and Andrew (Tinkler) just sat on him and then he ran on again. Maybe his jumping can be sharpened up, but he can certainly come on for the run.

"Mr Henderson has done a stunning job with him, he thought he had him as fit as he could get him but now he thinks there is plenty of improvement to come.

"He's back down 155 now which brings the handicaps back into it and he'll run on either Tuesday or Thursday. I'd imagine if it's softish ground it will be the Byrne Group, but on decent ground he could run over three miles.

"After Cheltenham he'll go for the Topham and I think that could be his race."