Balder Succes carries the ante-post favourite tag into The Ladbroke at Ascot on Saturday.
Alan King's four-year-old was fancied in the Triumph Hurdle and at the Punchestown Festival in the spring, but failed to complete either race. This season he as run respectably behind Champion Hurdle hope Zarkandar at Wincanton and won well at Haydock.
"You need an improving young hurdler to win this competitive race and we got lucky with Raya Star last year but, whereas he went into the race rated 134, Balder Succes is off a mark of 147, so there is no doubt that he has the class," King told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
"Balder Succes's third to Zarkandar in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last month looks pretty good form after last week's International Hurdle at Cheltenham. Our fellow has since won in the soft at Haydock, and I would not swap him for anything."
His jockey Robert Thornton told At The Races: "He's in cracking form. His run behind Zarkandar and Prospect Wells at Wincanton looks very good now and he did what we thought he would at Haydock.
"He's been schooling well, he's been working well and he'll improve from Haydock. He's got weight to carry but he likes Ascot and the ground shouldn't be a problem. He's got the weight because he deserves it, he's one of the better horses in the race and travels very well so this sort of race should suit."
Ranjaan has been all the rage in recent days for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and Paul Nicholls. Forced to miss the Triumph Hurdle in March, this will be his first run since January.
"It's very exciting to be going with a good chance but it looks a very open race. It will be a mighty slog for all concerned on this ground and there are lots of variables, but Paul Nicholls has been very pleased with him," said Harry Herbert, who represent the owners.
"He has schooled very well and worked very well and we always thought last year he had the make and shape to be better as he got older. The signs are that he's made significant improvement. We are launching him into this and we are being realistic, but we hope he can give a good account of himself."
Nicholls told Betfair: "I was going to run him in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury, but he wasn't quite ready, so we thought we'd go straight to Ascot and try and get him really fit. Hopefully he'll run a big race."
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