Kalashnikov follows the loose horse on his way to victory
Kalashnikov gave Amy Murphy the biggest success of her training career with an impressive victory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
The five-year-old looked a high-class prospect after winning a Wetherby bumper and twice over hurdles at Wetherby and Doncaster and he was far from disgraced when losing his unbeaten record in finishing second in last month’s Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
Making his handicap debut in one of the most fiercely competitive races of the season, Kalashnikov was the 8/1 joint-favourite in the hands of Jack Quinlan and spent much of the two-mile journey in midfield.
Quinlan was rousting his mount along leaving the back straight, but Kalashnikov responded to pressure to move into contention and battled his way to the lead on the run to the final flight.
The strong-travelling Bleu Et Rouge looked a big threat, but Murphy’s charge was not for catching and Quinlan saluted the crowd as they passed the post comfortably ahead.
Bleu Et Rouge was a clear second ahead of Spiritofthegames and Coeur Blimey in third and fourth respectively.
Quinlan said: “He’s a superstar, but all credit has to go to Amy and the team at home. They deliver him to the races in fantastic order and it makes my job very easy. I’m just very, very lucky to have the opportunity to ride a horse like this.
“We were worried about the ground as he got bogged down in the heavy ground at Sandown. For a fast horse, for the first mile today he didn’t travel for me, but his jumping was very good for a novice, even in amongst horses.
“Turning for home he was creeping (into contention), but I was still thinking he wouldn’t be able to finish as well as he could on better ground, but he is so tough and brave.”
Murphy said: “He’s unbelievable. I couldn’t see him the whole way round.
“He’s so tough because, as Jack said, he was never travelling and hated the ground.
“He’s so professional and he’s been professional from day one. He trains himself, I don’t train him.
“It could be the Supreme now. He’s proven he goes in a big field and has the class so he deserves to be there.”
Sky Bet went 8/1 from 20s about Kalashnikov for the Sky Bet Supreme and 8/1 from 20s for the Ballymore over the longer trip.
Spokesman Michael Shinners said: “That was a very impressive win off a mark of 141 and that puts him right in the picture for the Sky Bet Supreme.
“He’s entered in the longer race as well but his trainer Amy Murphy seemed to indicate the Sky Bet Supreme would be his race afterwards and it would be great to see him in our Cheltenham Festival opener.”