KNIGHT SALUTE kept his unblemished record over hurdles intact by landing the Grade 1 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.
It has been quite a remarkable season for the horse and for the comeback king, his trainer, Milton Harris. Knight Salute and his willing partner Paddy Brennan have struck up a fantastic rapport, and Brennan himself was buzzing in the aftermath, describing him as “one of the fastest horses over a hurdle I’ve ridden.”
He clearly gets from A to B quickly and is a battle-hardened individual. The big question now, will be, now sent into the deep waters of the Triumph Hurdle, is he able to swim with sharks?
The Irish challenge on their own look formidable, but he has done enough to say he is the best of the UK trained juveniles. My gut feeling is that he will run honourably without seriously threatening, but if you fancy his chances, he is available at 14/1, where a cogent case for him can be made as an each-way player.
Runner-up TEDDY BLUE was unlucky not to finish closer, having made a mess of the last light of hurdles. It was an encouraging run from the Gary Moore representative, especially when you consider his relative inexperience. He is a 20/1 chance to land the Triumph Hurdle in just over a fortnight.
PIC D’ORHY won the Pendil Novices’ in battling style under an excellent ride from Harry Cobden, and will now head to Aintree, along with AUCUNRISQUE who landed the Dovecote in good style for the in-form Chris Gordon team.
Runner-up SHALLWEHAVEONEMORE was a little bit disappointing, where he looked as though to my eyes he would be served by a greater test of stamina rather than having emphasis on speed. He does have an entry in the County Hurdle, where he probably wouldn’t be out of place in that contest providing the race doesn’t come too soon for him.
At Fairyhouse on Saturday, ICARE ALLEN gained a confidence-boosting success to book his spot in the Triumph Hurdle. Fifth behind Vauban on his penultimate start in Grade 1 company, he got back in the winners enclosure courtesy of taking advantage of this drop in class.
On paper, this was a straight-forward assignment, and he looked very happy on soft ground. It is possible that he will peak at Prestbury Park, but will really need to raise his game to match the protagonists in the Juvenile scene.
ANY SECOND NOW got the better of ESCARIA TEN by a nose in a thriller in the Bobbyjo Chase. BURROWS SAINT and COKO BEACH were well beaten in third and fourth respectively, and one would imagine that all four will head to Aintree for the Grand National now on the back of that.
If there is to be a joker in the pack for the Cheltenham Festival, then the Willie Mullins trained BRING ON THE NIGHT fits the bill. He landed the second Division of the maiden hurdle in excellent style on his first start over hurdles, and his first start on a racecourse for nearly two years. There were a couple of sticky leaps, but all in all it was a very polished performance.
Clearly he is light on experience, but it sounds like he could easily end up in the Supreme for a Mullins yard that have an embarrassment of riches it would seem. He is a general 25/1 poke across the board, and with his trainer suggesting he would ‘improve a lot for that outing’ after such a long absence, he may not look out of place in such elite company at Prestbury Park.