Published 31st January
KALASHNIKOV rates a value pick for the Ryanair Chase as a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up who retains the potential to scale even greater heights over fences.
Amy Murphy’s gelding went down fighting when beaten a neck by Summerville Boy at the 2018 Festival and didn’t get the chance to show what he could do in last year’s Arkle Chase after being badly hampered and unseating at the sixth.
Left-handed tracks remain the key to the seven-year-old, who hails from the family of 2005 Gold Cup winner Kicking King.
His record on anti-clockwise circuits reads seven wins and three seconds from 12 starts, the only other blip apart from the Arkle being his last-time-out eighth at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
His record on anti-clockwise circuits reads seven wins and three seconds from 12 starts.
Sent off a well-backed favourite under top weight, that disappointing effort is easily explained though - he uncharacteristically bled and was later found to be coughing, a sure sign that he was harbouring a virus of some sorts.
He’s better judged on his Grade 1 novice win at Aintree last spring and close second (beaten a nose) at Newbury in November to well-treated Oldgrangewood, to whom he was conceding 20lb.
The winner had been dropped 12lb from his previous career-high mark and went on to boost the form further when following up off 7lb higher in that January 1st race - a victory that elevated him back to the rating he had reached two seasons ago.
Kalashnikov’s good record fresh allows Murphy plenty of time to get him back in A1 shape for a contest that’s been his target since the summer, and he’s got the class and overall consistency to run a big race.
Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Ryanair Chase, Thursday 12th March
1pt each-way KALASHNIKOV (33-1 Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, 25-1 William Hill, 20-1 Unibet)
Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo