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Kalashnikov outguns Betfair rivals to set up Supreme dream for Amy Murphy

Sat 10 Feb 2018

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.

"We'll take each day as it comes and see where we go."

Kalashnikov was cut to as short as 8-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Murphy confirmed the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser is the likely next port of call. She added: "He has given us no reason to go anywhere else and I think you have to stay at two miles for now."

Willie Mullins was pleased with the performance of Bleu Et Rouge.

The JP McManus-owned grey was the only Irish-trained runner in the 24-strong field.

Mullins said: "I was delighted with that run. We had every chance and I think we met a really good horse that was unexposed.

"I don't think we have any excuses and it was a good training performance from the winning trainer. I am very happy with how he ran and he ran to his best."

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