Obviously, it isn’t easy for a trainer to fall out with a horse and tell it to clear off and find a new home. In this little love triangle, it’s Burke and Knott who have fallen out with each other, and there appears to be more to it than the fines imposed after the Paddy Power/Dorset Air Ambulance fund raising/publicity stunt at the Cheltenham Festival.
Knott’s response to the situation has been to put Hunt Ball up for sale, and he’ll be auctioned off at the DBS Spring Sale at Doncaster next month. He explained his decision saying, “Basically, I’ve just had enough of it all. Me and Kieran go back a long way. We’ve been through it all together. It won’t be the same with somebody else training Hunt Ball. I just know it wouldn’t feel right, so I’ve put him in the sale.”
What might Hunt Ball fetch at auction? According to bloodstock agent Aiden Murphy, who in the past bought Cheltenham Festival winners Captain Chris and Cappa Bleu there, the critical factor is the judgement interested buyers make about Hunt Ball’s capacity to maintain his current form rating. Murphy said, “In my opinion he’s worth £100,000 plus, but the plus depends on who is confident he can keep running to his 162 mark. But there’s no doubt he’s a six-figure Saturday horse.
As if to prove that bookmakers will offer you a price on anything, Coral have opened up a market on what price Hunt Ball will fetch. If they are right in their judgement, there will be plenty of potential buyers with tons of confidence in the horse. Their market leader (7/2) is a sale price of between £200k-249k.
Out of my league, that’s for sure, and out of Kieran Burke’s as well. Yesterday he was making overtures to whomever buys Hunt Ball, saying, “Any donations gratefully received. I made the decision to ask Mr Knott to take the horse way for the purpose of furthering my career and not being held back. Of course I would love to buy Hunt Ball back. After all, he was my horse before he was sold to Mr Knott. If I had the money I would buy him back at the sale. There will always be a stable for Hunt Ball here.”
It sounds to me that there’s a case for banging two heads together and then getting on with it.