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Knight Salute lands dramatic Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle

Knight Salute was awarded a dramatic Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle by the stewards at Aintree after initially dead-heating with Pied Piper

Pied Piper, third in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, was sent off the 10-11 favourite to get back to winning ways and certainly brought the strongest form to the table.

Knight Salute (14-1) has been a revelation this season for his resurgent trainer Milton Harris, but had finished well beaten at Cheltenham, some 17 lengths behind Pied Piper.

That looked an outlier, though, as prior to that he had won his other five races this season, including two Grade Twos, and he was right back to his best on this occasion.

Paddy Brennan had clearly decided to play his hand last of all, and he tracked Davy Russell on the Gordon Elliott-trained market leader for the whole race.

Approaching the last Russell must have felt he had matters in hand as he had not asked a single question – but Pied Piper did not jump the final flight well and gave Knight Salute a nudge, which caused a stewards’ inquiry to be called after the long wait for the initial photo to be announced.

Despite the coming together at the last, Knight Salute was able to edge in front on the run-in, only for Pied Piper to battle back and claim a share of the spoils right on the line – or so it seemed.

A lengthy inquiry followed and even though Brennan told the stewards he felt the contact did not affect the result and he was happy with the outcome, the officials disagreed which meant Harris had landed his first Grade One winner to cap a great season.

The Boodles winner Brazil checked out on the run to the last and was beaten 12 lengths back in third.

Harris said: “He cost 14 grand and gives everyone a bit of optimism.

“Brennan is his own man and said thank you for sticking with him, and he didn’t knock the horse about when his chance had gone in the Triumph.

“He could run anything down, this horse, but the juveniles are still 15lb below the Champion Hurdle horses.

“That’s why we were going to take him for a race in America later in the year with a view to possibly selling him.”

He added on ultimately getting the race after the inquiry: “It doesn’t sit well with me, it’s not the way I like to play sport.

“But that’s the rules, and if the rules say that – I just feel sorry for the second, I thought it was a good battle and it’s a shame to see someone demoted.”

Speaking before the verdict of the stewards, Elliott said: “Davy didn’t say much, he just said he hit the front too soon and if he had his time back he’d have taken his time more.

“He followed Mark (Walsh, on Brazil) as he thought he was the horse to beat. He went by him and then idled and pulled up in front. Davy is raging with himself, but that’s horseracing.

“I’ll take a dead-heat in a Grade One any day of the week. We’ve hit the crossbar a lot over the last two weeks.

“Both horses ran great races. Full credit to Milton Harris and his team – they’ve done a good job with their horse and our team did a great job with ours.

“A dead-heat is a fair result and I’m happy. This horse will go straight to (Royal) Ascot now.”

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