Amy Murphy’s stable star enjoyed a fine novice hurdling campaign last season, winning the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury before being narrowly denied by Summerville Boy in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He is a best priced 7-1 favourite to go one better in the Arkle Trophy in March and he providing ground conditions are suitable, he will face three rivals when he tackles the larger obstacles for the first time in Friday’s £50 Risk Free On Racing With Smarkets Novices’ Chase.
Watch Kalashnikov finish a close second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Kalashnikov is a general 1-3 to make a successful start to his chasing career, but Murphy is taking nothing for granted.
“We could have done with a bit more rain, but we are where we are. I’ll go up to the track early in the morning and check we’re happy with the ground,” said the Newmarket handler.
“It’s exciting for the team to get him started. Whatever he does tomorrow he will come on for it as we’ve not been able to get the horses on the grass yet because the weather has been so dry.
“It’s no easy task for him, but as long as he has a clean round of jumping and learns a lot we’ll be happy.
“It will be great to get his season under way.”
Kalashnikov’s three opponents are the Alex Hales-trained Huntsman Son, Charlie Longsdon’s Lisdoonvarna Lad and Scorpion Sid from Jamie Snowden’s yard.
Meanwhile, Defi Du Seuil, 2017 Triumph Hurdle winner, is also nearing his chasing debut but an in-form Philip Hobbs is one of many trainers praying for more rain.
The Minehead-based handler endured a poor season last term, but has begun the current campaign all guns blazing.
Defi Du Seuil went through his juvenile season unbeaten, winning the Triumph Hurdle by five lengths and following up at Aintree.
Relive Defi Du Seuil's success in the 2017 Triumph Hurdle
However, he never looked himself in two runs last term, finishing well-beaten at Ascot in November and in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February.
The JP McManus-owned five-year-old is now set to go novice chasing.
Hobbs said: “He is ready to run as soon as we get a nice amount of rain.
“He will head to a novice chase somewhere, it it just a case of wherever has enough rain. His schooling has been very good so far.”
Defi Du Seuil is a general 25-1 shot for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
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