Hunt Ball, the fastest rising star of jump racing, will have his very own race day at Fontwell Park this November.
The racecourse has joined forces with bookmakers Paddy Power to celebrate the success of the prolific steeplechaser, whose rating rose from 69 to 157 in the last jump season, which included a victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
The meeting, on Friday, November 9, is believed to be the first time a course has named an entire fixture after a racehorse.
Hunt Ball began his winning spree in a novices’ handicap chase at Folkestone in November 2011. Over the next four months, he won seven of nine starts including the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
He finished the season with third place in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree in April.
The race day at Fontwell Park will feature a number of features to celebrate Hunt Ball’s achievements so far, with scarves in the racehorse colours, a parade by the horse himself, interviews with owner Anthony Knott and trainer Keiran Burke as well as a special ticket package for racegoers to enjoy.
In addition, racegoers with the surname of Hunt or Ball will get in free. Hunt Ball’s owner, Somerset-based Anthony Knott, a farmer from Sturminster Newton, also owns 260 cattle. He stole the limelight when he jumped aboard Hunt Ball in the winner’s enclosure after his win at Wincanton in January.
Having bought Hunt Ball for ‘the price of a second hand car’, he has now won more than £73,000 in prize money.
Mandy Austen, senior commercial executive at Fontwell Park, masterminded the idea of the Hunt Ball Race Day having enjoyed watching the spectacular rise of the seven-year-old gelding and his owner.
She said: “I first saw Anthony on TV in November 2008 when he rode his first winner at Wincanton at the age of 44.
“This was unusual in itself, but watching him in the final moments of the race celebrating and cheering really stuck in my mind.
“Then he came to Fontwell last December when Hunt Ball won the second of his seven races. I’ve followed their fortunes ever since.”
An ambitious campaign is planned for Hunt Ball this winter. He’s being aimed at the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November followed by the King George VI Chase and, after a prep race the Cheltenham Gold Cup.