Tag Archive for: Milton Harris

Milton Harris aiming to better ‘phenomenal’ season

The names at the top of the National Hunt trainers’ championship may be familiar, but one of the stories of the jumps season has been the re-emergence of Milton Harris.

Harris amassed 172 winners over a 10-year period before filing for bankruptcy in 2011 and having his licence removed by the British Horseracing Authority.

Following seven years in the doldrums, Harris returned to the training fold in 2018, but having saddled just 30 winners in his first three seasons back on the gallops, it is this campaign where Harris has catapulted himself back into the headlines.

A career-best season has seen Harris earn £596,701 in prize money and although he fell agonisingly short of his £600,000 target, the handler can take comfort from the fact his stable star Knight Salute provided him with his first Grade One success at Aintree.

Randox Grand National Festival 2022 – Opening Day – Aintree Racecourse
Knight Salute provided Milton Harris with his first Grade One victory at Aintree (Steven Paston/PA)

The consistent juvenile, who won six of his seven starts for Harris in the 2021-22 season, bounced back from a disappointing showing in the Triumph Hurdle to force a dead-heat with Pied Piper in the Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle, only to be subsequently awarded the race in the Stewards’ room, a result which is subsequently subject to appeal.

“He’s been wonderful, the Irish have appealed the Aintree decision, which to be honest won’t really effect us other than a bit financially if they are successful,” explained Harris

“I feel a bit sorry for him because he probably never gets the credit he deserves. He’s been an absolute star and won six races out of seven and picked up our first Grade One.

“He disappointed at Cheltenham, but I give him the benefit of doubt there as the ground wasn’t right. He’s a proper warrior.”

Although the Grade One victory was an obvious high for the Sutton Veny handler, Harris is also proud of his string’s consistency throughout the season which has come, Knight Salute aside, without a plethora of superstars amongst his ranks.

“The main thing about this year for me is our strike rate, we’re up at 22 percent and for a yard of our size, which without Knight Salute, is probably just running in handicaps, is phenomenal.

“We’ve also done exceptionally well with our bumper horses and we finished the season above 20 percent. If you look at the stats the only yards that normally do that are the ones with lots of good novices and good horses like Nicky (Henderson) and Paul (Nicholls), its normally very hard to get over 20 percent.”

Paddy Brennan has been a man Harris has called upon on the big occasion and has partnered Knight Salute in five of his seven outings. But when Brennan has been otherwise engaged, the Wiltshire-based handler takes great pride in the opportunities he has given to some of the younger members of the weighing room and has been delighted to see three of the jockeys he uses thrive this season.

“This season, we’ve had three jockeys that we use – Mitch Bastyan, Kevin Jones and Harry Reed – all ride their claims out,  and that gives me a lot of pleasure. They drive me mad jockeys, but it’s tough love here, they might get a telling off now and again, but its only because I want them to do well and win,” said Harris.

Huntingdon Racecourse – Tuesday October 5th
Harry Reed, here riding Khan at Huntingdon, has been a jockey Milton Harris has regularly called upon (Mike Egerton/PA)

Some may ask how Harris has managed to change his fortunes around, but the handler, who recorded 56 winners in total in the 2021-22 jumps season, is keen to stress there has been no magic wand and just a combination of good old-fashioned graft, mixed in with a little rub of the green.

He continued: “The horses have been healthy and have run well all season. We’ve perhaps had better horses than in the past and that is down to the owners who have supported me, and a lot of credit has to go to the staff – we’ve got good staff. But there’s no magic formula, just hard work and a bit of luck.”

Refusing to rest on his laurels, Harris is already busy hatching a plan on how to better the season’s efforts next term and believes having success over the larger obstacles could be key to climbing the next step on the training ladder.

He said: “This year sets the bar high for next season, but that’s how its supposed to be if you want to keep on improving, and we’ll aim to beat this year’s numbers next season.

“We’ll have a lot more horses, I would say perhaps better-quality horses, and some that you won’t have seen yet, as well as going out and restocking with some novices if possible over the summer.

“Ironically, we don’t have any real chasers in the yard with setting up from scratch, which is where the real money is, and I think next year we’ll have a few more for fences.”

Not shy of naming names, the 63-year-old highlighted one of his charges that has been out of action in 2021-22, as well as a couple of his star bumper performers from this campaign as a trio of names to look out for next season.

“One of our best horses, Stimulating Song, has been out for the season, so we’ve got him to look forward to. At the start of the season he would have been our most talented horse, but he’s had a knock and he’ll come back, go novice chasing, and I have really high hopes for him,” stated Harris.

“Mullenbeg jumps really well so she’ll run in novice hurdles next year and she is one to look forward to, one who I’d hope would take high rank.

“We try not to be bad losers and I was delighted it was Oliver (Sherwood) that beat us the other day, but his filly was getting 15lb off Mullenbeg and in hindsight that looks a big enough ask for our horse, and before that she bumped into a nice horse of Nicky Henderson’s (Luccia) when the ground beat her at Sandown.”

Festival Trials Day – Cheltenham Races
Mullenbeg, winning here at Cheltenham, is set to go hurdling next season (David Davies/PA)

“Oh, and don’t forget Rosy Redrum. Don’t give up on her, she’s just a little ground dependent and she’s much better than she showed at Aintree.”

Buoyed buy the success of 2021-22, Harris is keen to quickly replenish his stock ahead of the new campaign and highlighted the summer jumping months of May, June and July as an area he is eager to target now the scoreboard has been reset.

He explained: “We’ll buy a lot more juveniles again, I enjoy the juvenile hurdlers and bringing young horses through.

“We only had three winners in the first three months of last season and that’s something I want to tackle in May, June and July. We need to get a few on the scoresheet early so we have a healthy start by the time the main season starts in October. I think we’ve got the stock to hopefully do that.”

The season may have drawn to a close, but there is a feeling that in Sutton Veny, Harris is only just getting started.

Scudamore doubles up as Hughes creeps ever closer at Fakenham

Tom Scudamore was the star in the saddle at Fakenham on Monday when riding a quick-fire double aboard Gary Moore’s Moulins Clermont  and Glimpse Of Gold for Sarah Humphrey.

Moulins Clermont (5-2) made every yard for Scudamore to deny Forever William in the Bruce Towers And Fisher Mechanical Services Juvenile Hurdle, a success that may give the Moore family something to cheer at a testing time in the aftermath of Joshua Moore’s injury at Haydock.

The rider then led from the front once again aboard Glimpse Of Gold (10-1), a four-time course winner, scorching clear to record a four-and-a-quarter-length victory in the Cecil And Sheila Buttifant Memorial Handicap Hurdle.

Leicester Races – Wednesday 2nd February
Tom Scudamore rode a double at Fakenham on Monday (Mike Egerton/PA)

It looked like Scudamore was set to land a hat-trick in the concluding Fakenham Mares’ Open Maiden National Hunt Flat Race, but he was denied on the line by Milton Harris’ Coin Basket (100-30), who returned a short-head verdict.

Harris was delighted with the winner saying: “I thought she won despite a few things today, the track didn’t suit and she’s probably a lot better than what she’s shown.

“She was one of four horses we took to gallop at Kempton about four weeks ago, all ex-Irish pointers. Three of the four have now run and three have them have all won first time. So I guess that wasn’t a bad gallop!”

Brian Hughes had to wait until race four to get winner 197 for the season under his belt when partnering Toby Bulgin’s Rapaport (11-2) in the Aldiss Furnishing Stores Seniors’ Handicap Hurdle.

Having seen Forever William (4-7) and Restitution (10-11) both turned over at odds-on in his first two rides of the day, Hughes was at his best aboard the 10-year-old mare and her handler was full of praise for the champion Jockey-elect.

“Brian gave her a tremendous ride, it looked like she wasn’t really going and she was out the back and then when he switches to the inside you think ooooh he’s sat on more than we think!” said Bulgin.

“You can normally tell with Brian, once he switches to the inside with half a circuit to go, you just go, yep something is on. Fair play to him he’s a star jockey.”

Brian Hughes File Photo
Brian Hughes notched up winner number 197 for the season at Fakenham (Mike Egerton/PA)

Bulgin also heaped praise on a team of physios that have helped keep the winner sweet following a career that has been hindered with issues.

“She’s always had plenty of ability, but lots of issues that started with an air ambulance at a point-to-point about five years ago!

“She’s had issues with her back and withers, but she’s got plenty of ability and will work with 120 horses at home.”

Dale Peters was denied back-to-back victories in the Queen’s Cup Open Hunters’ Chase as Not That Fuisse (5-4) brought up a hat-trick in the hands of Tristan Durrell.

The course-and-distance winner was given a cute ride from Durrell, slipping up the inside on the run to the last and pulling clear in the run-in.

Hasty Parisian proves poignant winner at Sandown

Ahead of the Paddy Power Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, Milton Harris was “hoping for a little divine intervention” for Hasty Parisian at Sandown.

Not that he did not fancy the 13-8 favourite. He wanted the four-year-old to win for his loyal owners, The Hasty Parisian Partnership, a group that includes 92-year-old Ruth Nelmes.

Her husband, Norman, passed away a year ago and the two-mile contest was run on what should have been his birthday.

Hasty Parisian read the script perfectly in the four-runner contest, cruising up with the pace before drawing readily clear of main market rival Langfel, to score by eight and a half lengths under a fine ride from Kevin Jones.

Harris said: “I think with these juveniles, which I love having, he is not off the Flat, he has had little racing experience and his first couple of runs were all about that.

“We had the mother (Va’vite), she won five, I think. All the family have won and they are a proper little family without being super, as such.

“She has bred three foals and every one has won. The others were Presenting Yeats and Mr Yeats.

“The whole family want further and the family want fast ground. He will probably end up rated between 120 or 130. He is learning to race now and he is starting to jump better.

“But it is lovely for Ruth. Her husband, Norman, was a great owner of mine and he died early last year. It would have been his birthday today. He was probably looking down on her today. And smiling, hopefully.”

Killer Kane (5-1) arrived at Spurles Farm with a big reputation and a hefty price-tag, but much like the Tottenham star he is named after, he has largely disappointed this season.

Yet the Colin Tizzard-trained seven-year-old, who cost £300,000 at the sales, went some way to justifying connections’ faith when he landed the two-and-a-half-mile Paddy Power Novices’ Handicap Chase.

In receipt of weight from all his five rivals and dropping back in trip after scoring at Kempton over three miles last time, Brendan Powell’s mount jumped well and despite wandering about up the hill, held on to score by a length and a quarter from Flic Ou Voyou.

Killer Kane went some way to living up to his price tag
Killer Kane went some way to living up to his price tag (Steven Paston/PA)

“The drop back in trip was just for the pot, really,” said Tizzard’s son and assistant, Joe. “I was a bit disappointed with him early in the season.

“I thought after he won at Carlisle first time, he’d definitely win next time, and he didn’t.

“Whether that was the tongue straps or what, also I was a little bit worried that it was going to be slightly softer. It was good ground at Kempton, but it was a good pot to aim for.

“He wandered about a bit through greenness. He has not had miles of racing and not been in front stacks of times. It has taken a bit of getting today and he has just had a little wander in front. It is the first time we have seen it and it’s not something to be worried about.

“He was obviously bought with a reputation – he cost a few quid and I think what has happened is that he has been disappointing through the mid-part of the season and he is now on a very workable mark. Hence, we haven’t gone small with him today. I am chuffed to bits with him.

“He will probably go to Aintree now for the three-mile handicap on Grand National day. I think that track, on good ground, back to three miles will suit him.

“He hasn’t got a lot of miles on him and he could go to Punchestown as well.”

Musical Slave gave Tom O'Brien further cause for celebration
Musical Slave gave Tom O’Brien further cause for celebration (Steven Paston/PA)

Tom O’Brien celebrated becoming a father for the second time when booting Musical Slave to success in the three-mile Paddy Power Handicap Chase.

The jockey has had a busy couple of days. Having partnered Longshanks to win the 4.05 at Exeter on Friday, he dashed to hospital to see his partner, Hayley, give birth to a bouncing baby boy at 7pm. Toby, weighing in at 9lb 7oz, “is unlikely to be a jockey given his size,” laughed trainer Philip Hobbs’ wife, Sarah.

Musical Slave (7-2) jumped far better than he had here on his last run and the JP McManus-owned nine-year-old only put the race to bed jumping the last to run out a three-and-three-quarter-length winner.

Sarah Hobbs said: “The last time he ran so badly and we had no reason for it. He ran brilliantly the time before at Exeter and we just couldn’t understand. We saw so many non-runners, that we were quite hopeful.

“He jumped a lot better. We had no reason for that run at all. He just got his rhythm and I think they may have gone too fast for him last time and took him out of his comfort zone.

“He might go to Punchestown – he has won there before – but that will be up to JP.”

Harris keeping fingers crossed Silver Shade can sneak into Boodles field

Milton Harris is still hoping Silver Shade will sneak into the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham next week, as he believes him to be “very well handicapped” and “a player”.

The Warminster handler is concerned his recent Fontwell success may not see him rated highly enough to get into what will be a compressed handicap for the extended two-mile race commonly known as the Fred Winter.

“I love Silver Shade and I think he is very well handicapped,” said Harris.

“But I would say he won’t get in the Boodles. If he gets in, he is a player. But I don’t know – the weights are going to go up at the top.

“I suspect we will end up with 10st 8lb or 10st 9lb and we won’t get in. I would be delighted if he did. I think he’d be a player – I don’t see him being rated a 120 horse.”

Currently a 33-1 shot for the Boodles, should he not get in, Harris will redirect him for what he hopes will be a prep race for Aintree on Monday week.

Harris said: “I need to speak to the owner. There is a juvenile at Stratford on the Monday and that is often very competitive race, as the Irish sometimes bring one over.

“He will have an entry for that, but I might just go and try and win a novice with a penalty with the four-year-old allowance.

“Then I’m hoping he makes up into an Aintree juvenile, as once you get into the 130s, he might just be amongst that crowd.”

Harris confirmed that unbeaten hurdler Knight Salute will head to the Triumph Hurdle.

As one of Britain’s leading hopes in the market at 12-1 behind Vauban, Pied Piper and Fil Dor, Knight Salute won a Grade Two at Cheltenham in November and followed up by taking the Adonis Hurdle in great style at Kempton.

Knight Salute on course for the Triumph Hurdle
Knight Salute on course for the Triumph Hurdle (David Davies/PA)

“Knight salute is going to the Triumph, as definite as definite can be at this stage,” said Harris.

“The clear plan is to go for the Triumph, I don’t see there is any benefit in carrying top-weight in the Boodles.

“I would love to say he has sparkled. The Tuesday before he went to Kempton and won last time, he actually did work well, but he is not a good workhorse.

“He is unbeaten in five and won three Grade Twos and they all keep telling me he can’t win. We haven’t met any of the Irish horses yet and if they are as good as they say they are, then we could finish fourth and still run a blinder.

“He will do very little between now and next week. We will probably work him this Saturday.

“He won’t do a lot, he doesn’t need to, he is a very professional horse and we just need to stay sound and healthy.”

Meanwhile, Harris could bypass Cheltenham with Mullenbeg, who is one of the leading British hopes for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

The mare is unbeaten in two starts since arriving from Ireland in December, including a fine effort when landing a Listed Cheltenham mares’ bumper in January.

However, Harris, who has 43 winners his fourth season since returning to the training ranks, is pondering the possibility of running her in the Listed EBF Mares’ Bumper Final at Sandown on Saturday.

“Mullenbeg may go to Sandown on Saturday,” he added. “She is going to be favourite for the mares’ at Sandown and 14-1 or 16-1 against the boys at Cheltenham.

“My thought process, subject to owners’ approval, is to go to Sandown then go to Aintree with her. We will make a decision on Monday, once we have seen the entries and discussed it.

“She is lovely. She has a turn of foot, which you don’t often see with some three-mile Irish pointers.”

Rosy Redrum gets all the allowances in the Champion Bumper
Rosy Redrum gets all the allowances in the Champion Bumper (Simon Milham/PA)

Harris will likely rely on Rosy Redrum in the Champion Bumper.

She won convincingly at Wincanton before staying on nicely, having been given plenty to do, to grab second spot in a hot Newbury bumper last time.

“Rosy Redrum definitely runs,” said Harris. “She is a lovely big filly, but nothing went right for her last time.

“Rosy gets all the allowances – 17lb – which is why she will go to Cheltenham. I’ve always thought she is Listed class on the Flat, but whether she is good enough to beat the Irish horses, I don’t know. Those allowances will help her, though.

“In two weeks’ time, we’ll all be going, ‘Who’d have thought it?’ – but it will either all have gone well or all have gone badly! We’re looking forward to it.”

Knight Salute passes Kempton test for Cheltenham

Knight Salute will head to the Triumph Hurdle unbeaten over obstacles after landing the Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle in good style at Kempton Park.

The Milton Harris-trained four-year-old has been asked a few questions in his short career, but has answered every one of them and on this occasion he had to fend off the challenge of Teddy Blue, who held every chance until blundering through the last.

Paddy Brennan’s mount travelled smoothly throughout, but increased the pace early in the straight, with his rider admitting: “I knew it was going to be cat and mouse and I was keen to be the cat!”

Knight Salute, who gained his fifth successive success for the Four Candles Partnership by three and a quarter lengths, was left as a 12-1 chance with Betfair and Paddy Power, who were seemingly not as impressed as his jockey.

Brennan added: “For the first two furlongs I was going as fast as I could comfortably go and that was really going to play in my favour and with respect to that, I probably got to the front a bit too soon.

“He is probably the quickest horse I have ever ridden over hurdles. He is so accurate. He is small, but he knows his limits. He is very, very quick from one side of a hurdle to the other.

“He stays very well and you will get there a bit soon on him, but I know he stays, so I’m keen to keep the race going and Cheltenham suits him.”

The winning trainer admitted Knight Salute’s build-up to the two-mile Grade Two contest had not been smooth sailing.

He explained: “Ten days ago, he had a little cough and a splutter and while he scoped OK, he came back on Tuesday and worked like a demon. That put me off a bit, because he doesn’t do that.

“He is a good horse. I’m sure the Irish horses are good horses, but every single one of the first three in the betting has been beaten – we have not been beat yet. I think he just does enough.

“I think we will be better on better ground. I’m not sure we will beat them, but they will have a race from the last.

“He will probably work once, maybe twice. He is a professional. He doesn’t do a lot. He’s easy. I’d like to take a lot of credit, but there is not much!”

Knight Salute seeking to underline Triumph claims at Kempton

Knight Salute will take on 10 rivals as he bids to maintain his unbeaten record in the Coral Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.

The resurgence of Milton Harris has been one of the stories of the season. He has already surpassed his previous best of 32 victories in the 2010-11 season, registering 41 winners thus far.

Thereafter, the trainer suffered a seven-year spell in the wilderness after declaring himself bankrupt.

However, he got his licence back just over three years ago and has steadily built up his new base at Warminster, and is heading to Cheltenham with a handful of big guns to fire.

His stellar campaign has been spearheaded by Knight Salute and the four-year-old bids for a five-timer over hurdles in the two-mile contest, hoping to rubber-stamp his Triumph Hurdle ticket.

Though having his first outing since defeating another leading British hope, Porticello, in the Summit Hurdle at Doncaster in early December, Harris feels the son of Sir Percy is the one they all have to beat.

“Knight Salute is in good form. He has done everything we have asked of him,” he said.

“The ground looks like it will dry out a bit, conditions look like they are in his favour and while it is a hot race, we are top-rated and I think they will be more worried about us than we are about them.”

Knight Salute will take on Impulsive One, whom he had just over a length behind in third at Doncaster.

Nicky Henderson has a number of good Kempton chances
Nicky Henderson has a number of good Kempton chances (Tim Goode/PA)

Nicky Henderson’s runner franked that form when winning his third race from five over hurdles at Mussleburgh last time.

“He is in good form. He is a Flat-ground horse and he’s a good-ground horse. He won well at Musselburgh,” said the Seven Barrows handler.

“This is a good race for him and he will go to Liverpool rather than Cheltenham after the Adonis. We’re hopeful he will acquit himself favourably.”

Paul Nicholls is represented by Rubaud, who makes his British debut, and Pleasant Man, who was a 95-rated handicapper with Roger Charlton. He makes his hurdling debut on his first start since September.

Nicholls told Betfair: “Both of mine are running in this race on the basis that if one of them wins then they can go on to better things like Zarkandar in 2011. If not they will be looked after until next season because I don’t want them losing their maiden status in an ordinary novice hurdle.

Pleasant Man (centre) on his to victory on the Flat at Haydock
Pleasant Man (centre) on his to victory on the Flat at Haydock (David Davies/PA)

“Pleasant Man won three times on the Flat, is rated 95 and on his two-year-old debut beat Pied Piper who is one of the favourites for the Triumph Hurdle. He has been with us since November, shows a fair bit at home, has done plenty of schooling and wears cheek pieces as he did when winning his last race for Roger Charlton in September.

“Rubaud stays well, he won impressively at Saint-Cloud in July and has been with us since the autumn. He handles soft ground and like Pleasant Man has had plenty of practice over our hurdles at home.

“There is no significance in the jockey bookings as Bryony Frost rides regularly for Chris Giles, the part-owner of Rubaud who we are trying in a tongue tie.”

In a deep renewal, their rivals comprise Big Boy Bobby (Alan King), Teddy Blue (Gary Moore) and The Famous Five (Venetia Williams), along with Graystone (Lucy Wadham), Moka De Vassy (Jane Williams) and Iroko (Oliver Greenall).

Pic D’Orhy and Harry Cobden bid to bounce back in the Pendil Novices' Chase
Pic D’Orhy and Harry Cobden bid to bounce back in the Pendil Novices’ Chase (Steven Paston/PA)

There are two more Grade Two contests on a cracking seven-race card, with the Coral Pendil Novices’ Chase attracting five runners.

They are headed by the Nicholls-trained Pic D’Orhy, who bids to bounce back from a lacklustre display behind L’Homme Presse in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

“He choked late on in the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown last time on testing ground,” said Nicholls.

“He needs a flatter track and better ground which he gets at Kempton. He is basically a very good jumper and I’m hoping to see him back at his best with conditions in his favour in a race we have won in three of the past five years.”

Minella Drama (Donald McCain) and Fantastic Lady (Henderson) both won last time out, while Millers Bank (Alex Hales) and Goa Lil (Nigel Twiston-Davies) complete the select line-up.

Five of the eight who line up in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle won when last seen, with the Gary Moore-trained Shallwehaveonemore a warm order to follow up his 20-length success at Sandown last month.

The Chris Gordon-trained Aucunrisque bids for a hat-trick after scoring by 10 lengths at Wincanton, as does Frere D’Armes, who impressed in winning at the same west country track for Dan Skelton last month.

“Obviously he is taking a big step up in grade and he is a novice,” said Skelton.

“We just thought we’d find out where we stand.

“The track is grand, the trip is fine, the ground is fine. There are no excuses. We’ll know where we stand.”

One of those who failed to win last time was five-year-old Russian Ruler, who was third on his hurdling debut at Doncaster when favourite.

Henderson said: “I think this is a really, really, really nice horse. I thought he was going to be one of our star novices, but things haven’t quite gone his way.

“I’m going to put him in good race like this and if he wins, he wins. If he doesn’t, he’ll be one for next year. He is a lovely horse.”

Shallwehaveonemore is favourite for the Dovecote Novices' Chase
Shallwehaveonemore is favourite for the Dovecote Novices’ Chase (Steven Paston/PA)

Iceo (Nicholls), Moriko De Vassy (Tom Symonds), Galore Desassences (Nigel Hawke) and Legionar (Harris) are among those hoping to land the valuable two-mile contest.

Though Legionar is the rank outsider with most bookmakers, Harris insists he should not be overlooked.

“In time, he will be better than Knight Salute, I should imagine. He is a good horse, a proper horse, and he will keep progressing. He is one to keep an eye on.”

Harris could field two-pronged attack on Champion Bumper

Milton Harris is pondering a two-pronged attack on the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival with his pair of talented mares.

Mullenbeg is as short as 12-1 for the extended two-mile feature in which the Willie Mullins-trained Facile Vega is odds-on with most firms.

The five-year-old is unbeaten in two bumpers and scored a decisive success in a Listed mares’ event at Cheltenham last month.

Yet the Warminster handler could be dual-handed in the concluding race on March 16, as Rosy Redrum did enough in defeat at Newbury on Saturday to merit “serious consideration”.

Though beaten a length and a half by the Emma Lavelle-trained Top Dog in a deep-looking Listed event at the Berkshire track, Harris could pitch the four-year-old into the fray at Cheltenham.

He said: “I think she is better than Mullenbeg – well, I know she is. She is fine and has taken the race well.

“I don’t know how she didn’t win. I think through a little inexperience, they just got away from Mitch Bastyan a little bit, but she finished off really nicely.

“She gets all the allowances and I think the Cheltenham Bumper might not be as competitive. Will Willie run six this year, or will he run two?

“I’d get 17lb off Facile Vega if he ran. It is a lot of weight and she is a good filly. If she was on the Flat, she’d be Listed class.

“Anyway, we are pondering it, giving it serious consideration.

“There is a mares’ bumper at Sandown the week before Cheltenham, but the ground might not be ideal and Aintree is a long way off.

“So, we are pondering the Festival bumper for both of them and Mullenbeg may go to Sandown the Saturday before, but the ground will have a bearing.”

Meanwhile, Harris hopes Silver Shade can book his spot in the Triumph Hurdle with a better performance at Fontwell on Thursday.

The Chris Baldwin-owned Silver Shade scored on his hurdling debut at Kempton last month before his hurdling let him down when well beaten by Pied Piper at Cheltenham.

Silver Shade had the better-supported Nick Williams-trained Interne De Sivola behind that day and the pair lock horns again in the Virgin Bet Juvenile Hurdle.

“I like him. I don’t know why he ran like that last time – he is better than that,” said Harris.

“I don’t know what happened. Like you and I, he probably just had a bad day.”

Middleham Park team savouring St Moritz challenge with Mordred

Middleham Park Racing owners will experience one of the most unique spectacles in the sport when they travel to the famous White Turf meeting in Switzerland to watch Mordred take on the Grosser Preis von St Moritz.

The Milton Harris-trained gelding has already triumphed twice on the snow, firstly taking the Grosser Preis Longines on February 6, a race trimmed down to just four furlongs after doubts about the safety of the track in the back straight.

Having only run over a minimal distance, Harris then adapted his plans slightly and entered the six-year-old in the Grosser Preis Longines on Sunday and the horse duly won by three-quarters of a length under Sibylle Vogt.

The Swiss spell will come to a climax this weekend when Mordred lines up for the Grosser Preis von St Moritz, a race worth the equivalent of £80,000 and one that will be witnessed by a group of travelling owners.

The foray has been the work of Harris, whose experience of the meeting has proved invaluable in allowing Middleham Park members to enjoy success on the frozen lake course.

“Milton takes all the credit for this,” said Tim Palin, director of racing for Middleham Park.

“He sourced the horse, he bought the horse with these races in mind and next week’s big prize is worth 100,000 Swiss francs.

“It was his plan, he felt the horse would be perfectly suited to these kind of conditions and he’s trained him to the minute since October, when he purchased him for 16,000 guineas at the horses-in-training sale.

“He’s orchestrated it brilliantly, the horse went out on the January 27, he ran his first race on February 6 and then ran yesterday (Sunday).

“There were health and safety concerns on the morning of the first race, so they reduced all the races that day. Our race was 1,800 metres down to 800 metres because they weren’t sure the back straight was safe.

“It turned out the race was only over four furlongs, but we managed to get the job done there and then yesterday, because he’d only run four furlongs, Milton felt that he only had a piece of work that day so we could probably get away with another race.”

Middleham Park are a leading name in racehorse syndication and have owned multiple Group One winners on the Flat and Graded performers over jumps, but the prospect of the White Turf proved particularly appealing and Mordred was an easy sell to members.

“For an ownership point of view, he was very popular,” Palin said.

“We’ve got a dozen owners going out on Saturday ready for Sunday, so it’s been really working towards a crescendo of excitement and involvement.

“It’s worked out so far, so good, and Milton says the hospitality there is like being treated like royalty.

“When we buy horses it can take weeks or months to syndicate them, but this horse was very popular from day one, simply because of this.

“It was an absolutely unique opportunity. Milton sent me a list of eight or nine horses and said ‘I think this will win the race or go very close in the race’ and that’s what made me choose him out of the horses he offered us.

“It was the ability to offer something unique. We’ve probably all read the press about the St Moritz White Turf racing, but to actually be involved in it, and successfully be involved in it, is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“We’re most grateful to Milton and we’re very grateful to our owners for jumping aboard and flying out to St Moritz.”

Harris seeking St Moritz highlight with Mordred

Trainer Milton Harris is enjoying a superb time at present and proved he is a man for all seasons, saddling his latest winner on the snow at St Moritz.

The Sutton Veny handler is set for a busy few weeks preparing his Cheltenham Festival hopefuls, yet there was still time to oversee Mordred’s overseas challenge with a bigger prize back in Switzerland in a few weeks in mind – the Grand Prix of St Moritz.

The annual White Turf St Moritz event has been held on the frozen lake of the Graubünden in the exclusive Swiss Alps resort since 1907.

Mordred booked his ticket for a big race in a fortnight when making all under Sibylle Vogt to take the Grosser Preis Longines, beating three rivals on Sunday.

Harris said: “It is not cold enough. It needs to be colder as they shortened the races from a safety point of view.

“Mordred was bought specifically with this race in mind. I have been coming here for many years and I come with German trainer Christian von der Recke, and I’ve always tried to target the race.

“The key with this horse is that he is a decent Flat horse and he has no penalties. The penalties are based on the previous 12 months prize money, so he gets all the allowances and it makes a massive difference at this altitude.

“They shortened Sunday’s race to a four-and-half-furlong race, but he is clearly a mile-and-a-quarter or a mile-and-a-half horse.

“Anyway, we won the race, which is a trial, and we expect him to be very competitive in the big race in two weeks’ time.”

Harris has a busy few weeks ahead with Knight Salute expected to take up an engagement in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton at the end of the month.

Last seen maintaining his unbeaten record over hurdles in the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster, the form of that race was given a huge boost by the runner-up Porticello, who subsequently won the Grade One Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.

Harris also saddled impressive Kempton debutant scorer Silver Shade in the Finesse Hurdle at Cheltenham, but he was well beaten by the Gordon Elliott-trained Pied Piper.

“Knight Salute is in the Adonis, so will be back on Wednesday or Thursday,” said Harris.

“He has plenty of pace and (then) we saw Gordon’s horse (Pied Piper) at Cheltenham.

“I finished fifth and Silver Shade did not run his race. My horse is much better than that and we’ve done a few things with him since. Obviously Willie Mullins’ horse (Vauban) looks a nice horse and I suspect the Triumph Hurdle will be six Irish horses and me and Gary Moore (Porticello) trying to have a go.”

Harris expects to see a better Silver Shade next time
Harris expects to see a better Silver Shade next time (Steven Paston)

He went on: “Silver Shade was lethargic, he was a little bit distressed after the race. He had his wind tested and everything. That is not him. He will probably go to the Victor Ludorum at Haydock, although I do need to speak to the owner.

“I suspect he won’t go to the Triumph, he will probably go to the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, but I’m not sure what will be top in there. The Irish could influence that. We haven’t got many horses in the 130s. The top one is rated 135.

“There is some logic into this being an average year, because unless they are paying 225,000 guineas, which Gordon paid (for Pied Piper), all the good three-year-olds are getting sold to Australia. That is the reality.

“Silver Shade beat Gordon’s horse on the Flat at Sandown (last year), so I think mine is a nice horse, I think you’ll see he’s better than he was last time.”

Mullenbeg landed a competitive Cheltenham bumper
Mullenbeg landed a competitive Cheltenham bumper (David Davies/PA)

Harris is pondering Festival options for two of his high-class mares.

Mullenbeg remains unbeaten after two starts having been an impressive winner of a competitive mares’ bumper at Cheltenham. Yet Harris is hopeful that another mare will show the ability which she has hinted at in her home work when she runs this week.

Harris added: “Mullenbeg won well at Cheltenham, but I have a filly at home, Rosy Redrum, that is better than her, but whether she is better just at home or not, we’ll see.

“She runs this week and she will either run at Huntingdon on Thursday or the Listed bumper at Newbury on Saturday.

“Mullenbeg’s obvious race is the mares’ hurdle at Aintree, but will Willie Mullins’ horses frighten everything else away in the bumper? Will it be a smaller than normal bumper with 10 or 12 runners? We just don’t know yet.”

Harris mulling options for Cheltenham victor Mullenbeg

Mullenbeg could bypass the Champion Bumper and wait for Aintree, according to her trainer Milton Harris.

The five-year-old kept her unbeaten record with victory in the Listed Alan Swinbank Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Her authoritative five-and-a-half-length success over Fairy Gem earned 25-1 quotes from most firms for the Champion Bumper back at the Prestbury Park track on March 16.

However, Harris could keep his powder dry and wait for Aintree three weeks later.

“Mullenbeg is fine this morning,” said the Warminster handler. “She has taken her race well.

“Everyone wants to crab the result, as the Willie Mullins horse (Nos Na Gaoithe) didn’t run her race and obviously something went wrong, but she has run twice for me and she has been very impressive.

“She is decent and while she doesn’t show that much at home, often they are the best ones.

“We have had a few offers for her, but whether the owners will sell her or not, I don’t know.

“The obvious target is the Aintree mares’ bumper (April 7), but I have another one for that – that’s the problem.

“I have the horse who won at Wincanton, Rosy Redrum. She is different. Mullenbeg is National Hunt-bred and the other one is Flat-bred.

“Possibly we could look at the Champion Bumper as she has a mares’ allowance, but the other race could be at Sandown for Mullenbeg. But the only worry with that is that it is generally awful ground at that time of year.

“I would say we will work back from the Aintree bumper and she will have a run before that.”

Silver Shade enters Triumph Hurdle reckoning

Milton Harris had made no secret of the regard in which he holds Silver Shade ahead of his debut in the Play Coral “Racing-Super-Series”For Free Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park, and the four-year-old duly dotted up.

The former Mark Johnston-trained inmate saw off his five rivals with a bit to spare in the two-mile contest, the first on A card that had to survive three inspections because of heavy morning fog.

However, while his hurdling left something to work on – a blunder at the third-last seemed to wake him up – his overall performance ultimately lifted any gloom and he may now head to the Triumph Hurdle.

Having burned off the long-time leader Dirham Emirati, the 9-2 chance jumped the last clear and repelled the late thrust of Cuban Cigar to score by a cosy length and three-quarters.

Harris said: “I have made no secret that I like him. He is a bit different to Knight Salute in that he is a different type – a big, strong horse. He has always done everything right.

“His jumping can be improved upon. The ground for these young horses could be quite tiring. I know the Moores liked their horse (Dirham Emirati), but I was quite surprised to see Richard Hannon’s (Cuban Cigar) being so close up, but he was OK on the Flat. This is a nice horse.”

He added: “He came here last week for a gallop and he has jumped OK at home, if a little too carefully.

“He is a nice horse, who has plenty of size and scope. He might just go to Cheltenham for the Triumph Hurdle trial on 29th, but we are running out of time. I wanted to run him a while ago and he just didn’t come to us in time.

“Knight Salute will likely come to Kempton for the Adonis. We might just be in a year where we have the best horses in not the best year.

“This horse was £18,000 and Knight Salute was £14,000.

“You have to dream. He could be a Triumph Hurdle horse. I would be more aggressive with him now. He knows how to race, but his jumping is a bit careful. He has jumped 60 to 80 hurdles at home, but that will sharpen him up.”

Khan enjoys victorious Ludlow swansong ahead of stud career

There will not be many horses that will go from winning a handicap hurdle to embarking on a stud career in France, but that is the plan for Khan after bagging his fourth victory of the season at Ludlow.

A Group One winner on the Flat in Germany in 2018, the eight-year-old has proved another shrewd purchase by trainer Milton Harris, who is enjoying a memorable campaign himself.

Since winning at Plumpton nearly 12 months ago, Khan had added to his tally with further wins at Fontwell in June, Huntingdon in October and Lingfield in November.

He was a 100-30 chance for his latest assignment in the Ludlow Brewery Handicap Hurdle and passed the post with almost three lengths in hand under Harry Reed.

Harris said: “He’s a lovely horse to be around with great character and he’s actually going to Pau as he’s got a job as a stallion – he leaves on Wednesday!

“That was his last run for us today, which is a shame as I think he’d have won again. He’ll be covering mares soon and hopefully we’ll get a few of his offspring back to train one day, you never know.

“He won a Group One as a four-year-old and just lost his way and then we got him. A lot of credit must go to Christian von der Recke as he found him for me and recommended him.

“He’s a gentleman of a horse who has been an absolute pleasure to be around.”

Khan knuckles down at Ludlow
Khan knuckles down at Ludlow (David Davies/PA)

The Wiltshire-based trainer went on to complete a double on the card, with Mullenbeg registering a facile success in the Watch On RacingTV Mares’ Open NH Flat Race.

Bought for 42,000 guineas after placing in two Irish point-to-points, the 15-2 shot made a most impressive debut under Rules under Mitchell Bastyan.

“She shows enough at home without showing loads, which is probably the best way to have them,” Harris added.

“I hoped she’d finish in the first three. Did I think she’d win like that? No. She’s obviously a good mare.

“I’m going to enjoy today, but I’d say we’ll look towards Newbury and/or Aintree, something like that.”

Harris has now saddled a personal best of 35 winners this season and has a genuine Cheltenham Festival contender on his hands in leading Triumph Hurdle hope Knight Salute.

He said: “I’ve had good seasons with prize-money in the past, but we’ve not had 35 winners before.

“We’re having a good season and I’ve got no complaints. If we can, we’ll try to get close to 50, but let’s get to 40 first!”

The Olly Murphy-trained Dr T J Eckleburg opened his account over obstacles at the second attempt in the Vobe Electrics Juvenile Hurdle.

Dr T J Eckleburg in the clear at Ludlow
Dr T J Eckleburg in the clear at Ludlow (David Davies/PA)

A dual winner on the level for David O’Meara, the son of Lawman made a promising start to his jumping career when filling the runner-up spot at Newbury last month.

He was the 8-11 favourite to go one better in Shropshire and ultimately had little trouble in accounting for Angels Landing by four and a quarter lengths.

“The race probably didn’t take much winning, but he had a good run first time in Newbury and that was grand,” said Murphy.

“The horse will have another run and we’ll see if he might be a horse for the Boodles at Cheltenham. I think he’ll be a better horse in a better race when you can drop him in off a fast pace.”

Quick Wave was in a class of his own
Quick Wave was in a class of his own (David Davies/PA)

Quick Wave was a 10-1 winner of the Plyvine Caterers Handicap Chase for Venetia Williams and Harry Bannister, while Tom George’s Java Point (2-1 favourite) claimed top honours in the Behind Bars Novices’ Handicap Chase in the hands of Jonathan Burke.

Favourite backers also collected after each of the two divisions of the Luke Watson Memorial ‘National Hunt’ Maiden Hurdle.

Dan Skelton’s Jet Plane obliged at 11-5 under Bridget Andrews in the first division and Bridge North landed odds of 5-4 in division two for Henry Daly and Richard Patrick.

Harris planning Adonis prep run for Triumph hope Knight Salute

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.”

Knight Salute was a winner at Cheltenham's November meeting
Knight Salute was a winner at Cheltenham’s November meeting (David Davies/PA)

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.

Jacamar was victorious at Kempton on Boxing Day
Jacamar was victorious at Kempton on Boxing Day (Steven Paston/PA)

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.

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.”

Knight Salute reaches the Summit at Doncaster

Knight Salute maintained his 100 per cent record over jumps when completing a four-timer in the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster.

The Milton Harris-trained three-year-old followed up his latest success in a Grade Two contest at Cheltenham with a gutsy display in what looked a very competitive race at the same level.

Porticello, the 6-4 favourite, set out to make all the running but his jumping needs improvement while Paddy Brennan kept Knight Salute towards the rear of a sedate pace in the early stages.

Knight Salute (4-1) moved into contention when the tempo quickened in the straight with three flights left and pulled clear after jumping the last to score by three-quarters of a length from Porticello. Impulsive One was a neck away third.

Knight Salute was cut to 12-1 from 20-1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle with Betfair and Paddy Power.

“It was harder today, the ground was deeper, I was committed down to the last I needed to wing it, I did, but he’s good,” said Brennan.

“It’s a £60,000 race thanks to the sponsors, a great bit of placement by Milton and a lovely race to win on a Saturday.”

As for what is next Brennan said: “It’s hard to say, we’ll let him do the talking on the track, It’s only going to get harder, but he’s earned enough money today to help towards Santa Clause.

“Milton’s doing well, he really believed in him. He rang me three times to tell me he was going to win”.

Owner Mark Adams added: “Everyone keeps putting a question mark over him, but what more can the horse have done. Every race you put in front of him, he runs well and he always gives a bit more each time.

“The Triumph is always the dream, any race at Cheltenham is a dream. Today was the big test to see where we go and after that run, why wouldn’t we!”

Harris said: “I’m delighted he’s answered the questions about the ground there. I’m not saying he loved it but he’s coped with it.

“He worked all over the horse that finished third today at Cheltenham (Galah) earlier in the week and I was very confident he would give his running and I told Paddy he would win.

“We’ll have to see what the handicapper does now, if he’s mid-130s then I was thinking maybe the Fred Winter, but there’s nothing to be frightened of at this stage.

“Obviously there might be a few smart ones still to come out, we might even have one or two ourselves, but you’d say he’s the best horse this side of the water so far. We’ll draw breath now, watch the race back and take a look in the new year.

“It’s great for the owners who are brilliant people and have been very loyal to me.”