Racehorse owner, farmer and former amateur rider Anthony Knott has already added several humorous footnotes to racing history and he has had plenty to smile about this season courtesy of his seven-year-old chaser Hunt Ball.
The gelded son of Winged Love has won six handicap steeplechases since November 28 – the most recent victory coming at Kempton on Saturday – and is proving a marvellous flagbearer for his first-season trainer Keiran Burke, who had to retire Grade 2-winning mare Sparky May through injury earlier this year.
Following Hunt Ball’s win at Wincanton in January, Knott was fined £100 by racecourse stewards who failed to see the funny side when the owner vaulted onto his horse behind winning jockey Nick Scholfield to ride him back in to the winner’s enclosure.
Knott had made history at the same course in November 2008 when riding his own Wise Men Say to victory, becoming, at the age of 44, the oldest person to ride a first winner under Rules. The dairy farmer had waited 28 years for that famous win and has subsequently retired from race riding.
Hunt Ball, whose rating has risen from 69 to 142 in three months, is now too highly rated to run in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase, which was his original target at the Cheltenham Festival. The Byrne Group Plate is now his most likely option, though Knott has not ruled out a supplementary entry in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.