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The Punter: Having Ball thanks to stunning betting coup

All the best betting coups are landed using utmost patience and taking advantage of loopholes in the handicapping system.

And that's why those associated with Hunt Ball were dancing a winning jig at the bookies' expense on Monday.

The six-year-old landed a right old fashioned touch, being backed in from early-bird odds of 11-1 right down to 6-4 favourite before winning a Folkestone novice handicap chase by three and a half lengths for first-season trainer Keiran Burke.

It was his first run since being beaten 67 lengths at Cheltenham last April in a five-runner novice chase in which he was 100-1.

Before that, in February, he was pulled up in a hunter chase at Wincanton after starting at 80-1.

A horse needs three runs to get a handicap mark but his only other two outings under rules were back in June 2009 with different trainers.

Hunt Ball was beaten 50 lengths in a novice hurdle at Hexham (SP 100-1) and just over a week earlier was 40 lengths behind the winner in his bumper race at 14-1.

However, he had two point-to-point wins on good ground but such races are not taken into consideration for handicapping purposes.

That meant his racing form under rules earned a very low mark of 69 and, as it turned out, he was pitched into that 0-95 handicap on Monday.

Jockey Aidan Coleman was even happy to put up 1lb over weight as the minimum in jump racing is 10st.

That mattered not as Hunt Ball won easily from the Tony McCoy-ridden Free Speech who gave the winner 16lbs. The top weight was conceding 26lbs and the others at least 12lbs.

The plunge began overnight and continued from early morning. No rules were broken and everything was above board.

Belfast Telegraph