Milton Harris raises possibility of Flat prep for Knight Salute

Knight Salute could run on the Flat in preparation for a tilt at the Triumph Hurdle, trainer Milton Harris has suggested.

The exciting juvenile took his unbeaten run to four over timber when landing the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday.

Currently third-favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, his Warminster handler still believes the son of Sir Percy, owned by the Four Candles Partnership, is a “good juvenile in an average year”.

“He has a mark of 75 on the Flat and he’ll win off that,” said Harris.

“I think a run around Kempton in February, three weeks before the Triumph, won’t do him any harm, and that will give him a bit of work.

“The alternative is to go to the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton at the end of February, but the Adonis has been a graveyard for Triumph Hurdle horses.”

He added: “Everyone knocks him a bit, but I think Knight Salute might be a good juvenile in an average year.

“Every so often, you’ll get some Triumph Hurdle winners who would never be placed in the next four Triumph Hurdles. With the greatest respect to Alan King and Katchit, was Katchit a good Champion Hurdle horse?

“But you can’t argue, as he won the Triumph Hurdle (in 2007) and the Champion Hurdle (2008).

“I see a little bit of Katchit in Knight Salute. Katchit wasn’t rated that high on the Flat, but he turned out to be a very good hurdler.”

Harris also revealed he was a little economical with the truth to jockey Paddy Brennan at Doncaster.

“When we got Knight Salute, he was always doing things in a little bit too much of a rush, hence the hood, and underneath that, the earplugs.

“Paddy wanted me to take the earplugs out after he won at Cheltenham, because he thought he just paused when he came to the last. I told him on Saturday that I had taken them out – but I hadn’t.

Jockey Paddy Brennan "needs to believe", according to Milton Harris
Jockey Paddy Brennan “needs to believe”, according to Milton Harris (Nigel French/PA)

“That’s because Paddy needs to believe. I have to tell him, ‘This will win, Paddy!’ – you want him to go there thinking he is invincible, because that is what he needs. I have known him since he was a young boy and he lives on the edge, even at the age of 40.

“And we’ll probably take the earplugs out come the Festival, should we get there. That’s the plan.”

Knight Salute may not be the only runner from the Sutton Veny yard at the Festival meeting if all goes to plan.

Harris said: “I have one at home who might be better than Knight Salute who has not run yet.

“Silver Shade was with Mark Johnston. He just looks a proper horse. He might go to Kempton on December 27 in an introductory hurdle. That is a sort of a plan.

“The difference is Knight Salute has done it on the track and we know he handles Cheltenham.”

Stimulating Song was a Cheltenham winner last season
Stimulating Song was a Cheltenham winner last season (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

However, Harris revealed he has had to concede defeat with Stimulating Song, who has been sidelined since landing an intermediate hurdle at Cheltenham 13 months ago.

“Our best horse, Stimulating Song, is out for the season,” admitted Harris.

“We were hoping to get him back, as he might have been an Arkle horse – he is still with us, which is the main thing.

“He struck into himself at Cheltenham, so we gave him loads of time, but it is just not worth the risk, so we decided that he will come back next season. He is only six, so has time on his side.”

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