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."
21 April 2014Hill out of Irish National
Guineas still on Berkshire radar
No Dundeel at Royal Ascot
Clowance up for the Cup
Garner hit with lengthy ban
Memories in Final flourish
Fitz powers home at Fairyhouse
Toner hits target for Elliott
Joe ready for Cork outing
Lennon looking to call tune
Ground holds key to Tonto show
Lucky escape for Cook
Mind called up for National service
20 April 2014Fitz powers home at Fairyhouse
Lyons backs Brackan
Brookhouse turns to Crawford
Weld and Smullen keep up good work
Whiskey shows winning spirit
Brook another for Russell team
Zurigha blossoms in Snowdrop
Planning pounces at Haydock
Escalating moving on up
Buntline bidding for more
Rebel all set for big Powers test
19 April 2014Bolger on mark with double
Elliott calling on Toner
Fry taking Bold route at Haydock
Snowdrop test for Ribbons
Classic redemption for Grandeur
Hanagan the star man for Fahey
Doyle pounces with classy Cat
Litigant goes Marathon distance
Guineas hope Ertijaal delivers
Life's good for Kirby and McEntee
Moss ready to roll for Brown
Tigers on the prowl for Teal
18 April 2014'Legend' Border just denied
Hanagan the star man for Fahey
Hardie makes history on View
Ready to undergo heart scan
Cantlow tops Irish National weights
Arvika career in balance
Bally stars in Powers quartet
Royal target for classy Cappella
Obliterator future excites Lyons
Chasing plan for As I Am
Killough does it again in Sefton
Toormore claims Craven
Hamza holds on in Abernant
Wonder-ful double for Godolphin
Grugy all set for Sandown defence
Vaughan hoping for Bay of plenty
Muir keen to make a Point in Sprint
Newmarket will suit Canarias - Leon