Hunt prepared for another Giant pull on heartstrings
AS MILLIONS re-lived the best of 2012 on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show, memories of a personal highlight came flooding back for Simon Hunt.
The short of clip of last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup may have had little resonance for most of the audience, but for Hunt it meant everything.
It was a scene he has replayed in his mind countless times, but seeing his star racehorse The Giant Bolster giving his all in the biggest race of the season never fails to stir his emotions once more.
"The clip showed Synchronised and The Giant Bolster flying up the hill," he said.
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"I wasn't expecting to see it and I hadn't really been thinking about it, but that feeling never goes away from a day like that.
"I was sat there riveted to the seat and everyone else in the living room was cheering at the telly.
"All I could feel is hugely emotional. That's how it feels. It's a hard feeling to describe.
"At the end of the day that's what sport is all about, emotions and opinions."
Emotions could run high again when The Giant Bolster lines up in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day with a leading chance.
In recent weeks the row between trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith about the future of Kauto Star has highlighted how relationships can break down.
In the case of Hunt and Stow-on-the-Wold trainer David Bridgwater however the unity runs deep.
"On Tuesday night we had an hour on the phone and we had an hour on the phone on Monday night," said Hunt.
"It's not because we doubt each other or anything like that – the one thing you have got it here is an owner and a trainer in harmony.
"We stand and fall together and that's why the horse and trainer deserve to take their chance in the King George.
"I think it's important the decisions you take you take them together, and the trainer has 100 per cent of my backing and vice versa."
Despite finishing second in the Gold Cup, The Giant Bolster is available at around 14-1 today.
In contrast, Long Run is around 5-2 favourite despite finishing behind The Giant Bolster in the Gold Cup.
Hunt reported The Giant Bolster to be in good shape at Bridgwater's yard in Stow-on-the-Wold since finishing third behind Siviniaco Conti and Long Run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.
"We've come to the King George nice and quietly," he said.
"All along we said we'll make all our entries and keep our options open.
"We know that it's a huge privilege to go to the King George.
"Bridgie's isn't the biggest yard in the country but it's a damn fine yard to be at.
"He hasn't got a yard like Paul Nicholls or Nicky Henderson and you've got to plan your route carefully. At the end of the day if something's not right with one he hasn't got one to just roll off the shelf.
"So the management has to be right and I couldn't have a better man looking after my horses.
"We'd only go there if he had a live chance.
"I know they're all very different races – the Gold Cup, the Betfair and the King George – but you never know unless you go and the horse will be well prepared for it.
"Just thinking about it I've got goose bumps. That's why I know how much it means to me and I know how much it means to Bridgie."