Harris excited after Knight Salute wins

Milton Harris improved his already impressive strike-rate for the new season and unearthed a serious Festival candidate as Knight Salute powered home in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Trained by Andrew Balding on the level, Knight Salute went regressed after winning on his second start – but is now three out of three over hurdles.

Upped in class to Grade Two company he was sent off a 9-2 chance, and with Paddy Brennan charting his typically wide route into the straight when the stagger evened itself out, Knight Salute was in front.

The favourite Magistrato found disappointingly little up the hill, leaving Saint Riquier to chase home the winner, who was a given a 20-1 quote for the championship event with Coral.

Harris returned to the training ranks in 2018, with the British Horseracing Authority having previously rejected his licence applications after he was declared bankrupt in 2011.

“It’s quite emotional really, because it’s been a tough road,” he said.

“He’s a good horse, he’s got a bit of pace and if there’s a better tactical rider in the weighing room than Paddy Brennan then I don’t know him.

Paddy Brennan

Paddy Brennan

“I said to him to be last man and I thought he’d got there too soon.

“We might go to something like the Adonis or we might just leave it to the spring. He looks like he’s all right.

“He was given a mark of 91 after his first two races on the Flat and he struggled, but Andrew Balding was very open with me and said he’s by Sir Percy out of an Unfuwain mare so he’s crying out for a trip.

“I said to Paddy if you get to the back of the last with them you’ll win because you’ll be quicker than the rest, and he was.”

He added: “I think I’ve won this race before in the past. This is my second go and life is like that sometimes. Some people aren’t lucky enough to get a second chance.

“We’ve got some nice horses. I’ve got some brilliant owners, but relative to the game they’ve got no money. This lad isn’t going to win the Gold Cup, but he might win a Triumph Hurdle.”