Trainer Milton Harris is enjoying a fine season and with the results from all the big Triumph Hurdle trials over the Christmas period locked in, it is all smiles in Sutton Veny as Harris firms up plans for his Cheltenham Festival hope Knight Salute.
Last seen maintaining his unbeaten hurdles record in the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster, the form of that race was given a huge boost when the runner-up Porticello hacked up in the Grade One Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.
Having momentarily contemplated switching Knight Salute to the level for his next outing, Harris has now revealed Knight Salute will go in search of further graded honours, pinpointing the Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton for his pre-Festival tune-up.
Harris said: “We were going to run him on the Flat as a prep, but I think we’ve decided on the Adonis at Kempton.
“I spoke to AP McCoy about him actually and he thought Kempton would be a good place to go and he’s a quick horse who has won round there before.
“I know every time you run there’s a risk of injury, but he’s a fairly sensible lad and it’s hard for these juveniles in the second season when they go on to race in open company, so you’ve got to make hay with them while you can.”
Results over the festive period have got Harris dreaming of Cheltenham Festival glory and he is confident his charge has a fantastic chance of providing the Warminster handler with a first winner at March’s showpiece.
“Listen I don’t want to decry anyone else’s horse – Gary’s (Moore) horse is a very nice horse, but he will probably end up as a three-mile chaser. Same with Gordon Elliott’s horse (Fil Dor). He looks smashing, but looks more of a galloper that will benefit from plenty of cut.
“Whether or not decent ground on the last day at Cheltenham will suit them over our horse, only time will tell, but I would fancy our chances from the back of the last to the line with anybody.
“I mean they may be away and gone by the time we get to the last, but if we’re latched onto them going down to the last, then we’re a runner because I know we’ve got a quick horse,” the handler commented.
Harris has saddled 32 winners this season and his good form continued on Boxing Day when Jacamar was a winner in front of the ITV cameras at Kempton.
The progressive chaser is set to put his own Festival credentials to the test when appearing at Prestbury Park on Trials Day.
“Cheltenham Trials Day is pencilled in and there are two races he’ll get an entry for. It’ll either be the two-and-a-half-mile novices’ chase or the Grade Three open handicap over the same trip, but we’ll have a look nearer the time and weigh everything up,” Harris said.