Ranjaan back at Haydock
Connections are looking forward to seeing Ranjaan return to action in Saturday's Betfair Commits £40 Million To British Racing Hurdle at Haydock.
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Paul Nicholls' charge won impressively at Kempton Park in December on his third start over hurdles and then enjoyed a decisive victory against his elders in a handicap hurdle at Taunton in January, when scoring by three-and-a-half lengths.
However, his season was cut short after incurring an injury on the gallops only weeks before the Cheltenham Festival.
Harry Herbert, managing director of Ranjaan's owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: "The plan is to run Ranjaan in the Betfair Commits £40 Million To British Racing Hurdle on Saturday. He seems in very good form and I spoke to Paul (Nicholls) yesterday and he is keen to run.
"The injury he suffered was really mild. It was a little bit of joint concussion. He is a big, developing horse and he just got a little joint sore which is a clear sign of immaturity.
"He is over all of that now and he had plenty of rest back here at Highclere. He is ready to start his season and we are hopeful that it will be an exciting few months ahead with him.
"It could be a blessing in disguise that we missed the spring festivals with him last season because he is a massive, powerful horse, who will hopefully go through this season hurdling and then start novice chasing next year.
"I know Paul (Nicholls) likes him very much and he has been pleased with Ranjaan's work but the horse may just need it on Saturday, especially if the ground is very testing. He should be able to get through the ground and he is sort of bred to.
"He is a heavy-structured horse - more so than others - and he looks like the type of horse that might just need the run. Having said that, Paul (Nicholls) has had this race in mind for a long time and is very keen to run him and get the show on the road.
"He is an exciting prospect and after his win at Taunton in January we were dreaming of Triumph Hurdles. He was rated 90-plus on the Flat in France and he is very lightly raced from one of the Aga Khan's good families.
"I think Paul has always thought of him as a long-term project and hopefully we will learn a bit more on Saturday."
The 11 entries for the two-mile contest also include JCB Triumph Hurdle hero Countrywide Flame, who finished second in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on his latest outing, and Cause Of Causes, who was third in the Grade Three Racing Post Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday.
Other notable contenders are Alan King's Balder Succes, Grade One Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle scorer Hollow Tree, and Nicky Henderson's Lyvius.