Arkle Hope Kalashnikov Aims To Book Cheltenham Festival Place With Kingmaker Win At Warwick
Amy Murphy's Kalashnikov was one of the most popular horse racing naps over the Christmas period, but he failed to produce his best when beaten by Dynamite Dollars in the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton Park and Murphy is already targeting her stable star's next outing to recapture the winning thread.
Murphy has pencilled in the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick on February 9 as Kalashnikov's next test over fences, as last year's Betfair Hurdle winner and Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up aims to bounce back to winning ways over fences.
The six-year-old was eased in the betting for the 2019 Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival following that Kempton defeat and is now a 7/1 second favourite behind Lalor, who heads the betting at 5/1 for the two-mile novice chase showpiece on March 12.
However, should Murphy's charge recapture his best form over the larger obstacles at Warwick then it would be no shock to see him launch back to favouritism in what is a wide open division this season.
Murphy had toyed with the idea of sending Kalashnikov to Doncaster for the Lightning Novices' Chase, but she said that contest would come too quick for the classy performer and is now willing to wait until Warwick's Grade 2 Kingmaker, which is a race targeted by those trainers looking to provide experience to their Arkle challengers.
Harry Whittington's Saint Calvados won the 2018 Kingmaker and went on to compete in the Arkle at Prestbury Park a month later, while the last horse to win the Kingmaker and go on to win the Arkle was the Alan King-trained Voy Por Ustedes, who did the double in 2006.