KALASHNIKOV outgunned his rivals to win the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and provide trainer Amy Murphy, and jockey Jack Quinlan, with the biggest wins of their burgeoning careers.
The horse – one of the hurdling division’s rising stars – is no stranger to Yorkshire racegoers after winning twice at Wetherby, and once at Doncaster, last year.
Second in Sandown’s Grade One Tolworth Hurdle, the only blip to date, he had the resilience to handle the 24-runner cavalry charge to land Europe’s most valuable handicap.
Yorkshire runners Nietzsche and Project Bluebook were 15th and 18th respectively while Irish Roe, trained by Northallerton farmer Peter Atkinson and his wife Lucinda, simply did not handle the conditions and was pulled up.
As for the mud-splattered winner, Kalashnikov’s next target will be Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices Hurdle.
“Although he has done it nicely, I am sure that it will have taken a bit out of him,” said Newmarket-based Murphy who nearly withdrew the horse because of the heavy conditions.
“I think it will be all systems go for Cheltenham as he has proved that he can handle a big competitive field and he has every right to be there. I think the better the ground, the better it is for him. He is such a lovely-actioned horse that I think he will only improve for it.”