Trainer Milton Harris believes he possesses the best juvenile in England and plans to run Knight Salute in the Adonis at Kempton before heading to the Cheltenham Festival.
Knight Salute, a son of Derby winner Sir Percy who joined Harris last summer after winning just one of his seven starts for Flat trainer Andrew Balding, is unbeaten in four appearances over hurdles.
The four-year-old made a winning start at Sedgefield back in September before impressing at Kempton and following up with two Grade Two successes, including most recently in the Summit Hurdle at Doncaster in December.
Behind Knight Salute on his last run was Gary Moore’s Porticello, who has since enjoyed Grade One success at Chepstow in the Finale to earn quotes of 10/1 (Sky Bet) for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Knight Salute, at 12/1, has two other British rivals – In This World (Dan Skelton) and Iceo (Paul Nicholls) – ahead of him in the market, but Harris is not scared of any of the potential opposition.
He told Sky Sports Racing’s Get In programme: “At the moment, he’s the best of the English I’d say. The Irish might be better than us but at the moment I’ve not seen anything that makes me quake in my boots.
“In this game, you need a bit of luck and I suspect he might be a good horse in an average year.
“He’s done nothing wrong and you can’t knock him. He’s honest and straightforward.
“We’re just starting back with him. My initial thought was to give him a run on the Flat and not knock him about because I think he’s well-handicapped.
“But, the reality is that the Adonis is now £60,000 so we’ll probably go there to Kempton on February 26, which gives us a break before Cheltenham. If the ground got awful at Kempton we might reconsider and go on the Flat.
“You have to remember he’s by a Derby winner [Sir Percy] and out of an Oaks third [Shadow Dancing] so he’s bred to be a decent horse. I didn’t expect to get him for £14,000!”
Harris has every reason to be full of confidence with his yard in fine form having already notched up a career-best tally of 33 winners after Global Agreement’s success at Wetherby on Friday.
It marks a remarkable comeback for the trainer, who spent seven years out of the game after declaring himself bankrupt in 2011.
Asked for the secret to his recent success, Harris said: “The main thing is owners and staff. We have brilliant staff and I’m proud of them.
“All my troubles that I had previously are behind us and the owners that came with us when we started with eight horses have stood by us.
“We’ve worked hard. I’m a competitive soul and I need winners.”