Ante-post Arkle Trophy favourite Kalashnikov is on target for the 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas.
Amy Murphy’s stable star, who was second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, has made a flawless start to life over fences.
An 11-length win at Warwick was followed up by an 18-length stroll at Plumpton, which also qualified him for a £60,000 bonus on offer for any horse who wins a nominated race at the track and can go on to triumph at the Festival.
“He’s in great order. He’s absolutely bouncing. He had his first half-speed after Plumpton on Saturday,” said Newmarket-based Murphy.
“Hopefully we’ll get some rain and he’ll have a pop over fences next week before we go to Kempton. I’m delighted with him.”
Kalashnikov's rivals at Kempton seem unlikely to include the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil, despite the fact he impressively got off the mark over fences at the second time of asking.
Having disappointed in two runs last season and on his chasing debut, his winning streak of seven in his juvenile season, which included the Triumph Hurdle, was beginning to look a long time ago.
He was sent off a 9-1 chance at Exeter in a hot novice chase, but came home three and a half lengths in front, showing all his old sparkle in the process.
“He still jumped the first two less than perfect, but in the end it was very good. I was delighted with him and I’m sure he will benefit for the experience,” said Hobbs.
“We are discussing several options. Kempton is a sharp track and it is not ideal, so he probably won’t go there.
“There is a race at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day (Dipper Novices’ Chase) and he could go for that, but there are various options.
“We don’t know about his trip yet, either, so we could look at both the Arkle and JLT (at the Cheltenham Festival in March).”