14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Confidence behind Ranjaan bidHeadlines

Harry Herbert is used to going to the Royal meeting at Ascot but now he is heading there with a fancied runner in The Ladbroke, one of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the season.

Trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, the four-year-old Ranjaan missed the Cheltenham Festival through injury.

He has reportedly strengthened up over the summer and has been well-backed in the ante-post market all week.

Herbert, who represents the owners, said: "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.

"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.

"His joints were sore last year, which is why he's had the time off, and Paul has always viewed him as a long-term prospect."

If there is one horse in the race with pretensions of being better than a handicapper it could be the Alan King-trained Balder Succes.

"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," said King on his website.

"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."

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