Milton Harris feels Knight Salute has improved at home as the unbeaten three-year-old heads for the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday.
Wins at Sedgefield and Kempton were followed up by a smooth success in Grade Two company at Cheltenham’s November meeting, meaning he brings the strongest form into the contest.
Taking him on are Gary Moore’s French import Porticello, winner of a Listed event at Wetherby on his British debut, and Dan Skelton’s Too Friendly, who has been victorious in his two starts over hurdles to date.
“You don’t have that many choices with a good juvenile when you’ve already won a Grade Two, so you have to carry a penalty,” said Harris.
“I’ve seen some people knocking the form of the juveniles this year, not just him, but what I would say is I’m sure people were knocking Katchit at this time of year when he was winning similar races and he didn’t turn out too bad.
“All he can do is keep winning and I’m convinced he’s improved at home since Cheltenham.
“We’ll know after this where we are going – it will either be the Fred Winter (Boodles), the Triumph or the pub!
“I’ve still got a couple of juveniles to come out yet and they’d be on a par with him. Our strike-rate might have dipped a bit in recent weeks, but we’re not a big yard, we’d only have 45 in training at any one time.
“Gary Moore’s is favourite and he beat one of mine (Genuflex) at Wetherby by four lengths. I’d like to think this lad is four lengths better than him.”
Magistrato was fourth behind Knight Salute at Cheltenham, but Paul Nicholls believes the Doncaster conditions and a pull in the weights could help to reverse that form.
He told Betfair: “He found the ground at Cheltenham quicker than ideal last time when he finished fourth, beaten less than three lengths, behind Knight Salute. He led on the home turn there and was only headed in the last half-furlong.
“Magistrato will be much happier with cut in the ground at Doncaster and now gets a handy 5lb from Knight Salute and Porticello on a galloping track that should play to his strengths.”