Ante Post Cheltenham Contender Kalashnikov Set For Plumpton Novice Chase Test
Arkle contender Kalashnikov will take his second step on the road to the Cheltenham Festival today with a run at Plumpton.
The Amy Murphy trained superstar will be hoping to build on a debut success over fences at Warwick with another win this afternoon. The 5-year-old took the highest of order over hurdles last term with a success in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury followed up by a 2nd place finish in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and many are already picking the horse as the most likely winner of the Arkle in March.
Ridden by regular rider Jack Quinlan, Kalashnikov will have to cope with a penalty this afternoon but is still expected to be far too strong for a weak looking six runner field.
The bookmakers will certainly be watching the racing results closely as the Arkle Trophy market continues to take shape following a number of contenders emerging in recent weeks. Lalor sits top of the ante post betting at this stage following his stunning success at Cheltenham, with Mengli Khan also impressing in Ireland for Gordon Elliott.
All eyes today though will be on Kalashnikov as he jumps fences in public for just the second time with his route towards the spring already mapped out. The Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Christmas is likely to be the next port of call, assuming Plumpton goes well today, with the Kempton race likely to provide the horse with his first stern test.
There is also the small matter of a £60,000 bonus on offer for any horse who wins the novice chase at the Sussex track this afternoon and also manages to follow up at the Cheltenham Festival itself.