sport

Crus and Ball in Paddy Power field

Grands Crus and Hunt Ball are among 22 confirmations for Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

David Pipe's grey disappointed when only fourth in the RSA Chase at the Festival on his final start of last year, but was subsequently reported to be a sick horse.

Hunt Ball was the success story of the season, rising 88lb in the handicap and finishing third in the Betfred Bowl on his final start of the season for fledgling trainer Keiran Burke.

Paul Nicholls holds a strong hand with Cheltenham regular Poquelin heading the weights while Al Ferof, a Grade One-winning novice last term, and Aerial also feature.

Nicky Henderson, Nicholls' big rival for the title this season, could run last year's runner-up Quantitativeeasing, Triolo d'Alene, Tanks For That and Nadiya De La Vega.

Walkon has been well backed in recent days for Alan King while Philip Hobbs has Wishfull Thinking and The Disengager among the possibles.

Calgary Bay could be Mick Channon's first runner in a major race since taking over some of Henrietta Knight's string while Forpadydeplasterer could be well handicapped on his old form.

Hunt Ball came through his last serious piece of work on Monday morning with flying colours and his connections could not be happier.

"He did his last serious work today ahead of the Paddy Power and he was very good, as good as gold, and I was very pleased," said Burke.

"He did a piece of work at Richard Barber's and worked very, very well. I rode him and we did 15 furlongs - three times up his gallops with a four-year-old unraced horse.

"I couldn't be happier and he is exactly where we want him before the Paddy Power. He is fresh and well and looking really, really well as well.

"He will now do light canters the rest of the week and we'll freshen him up for Saturday."