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!”