First Grade 1 success for Amy Murphy and Jack Quinlan with Newmarket-trained Kalashnikov at Grand National Festival opener
Jack Quinlan rode Newmarket-based Kalashnikov to the pair’s first Grade 1 victory in the opening race of the 2019 Aintree Grand National Meeting in Aintree this afternoon (April 4).
The former St Benedict’s Catholic School pupil and the Amy Murphy-trained gelding romped home to a thrilling race-to-the-finish victory in the Devenish Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) race on Thursday, in Kalashnikov’s final race of the season.
It was the furthest the six-year-old has ever run in competition at a length of 2m3f200y, but Murphy’s belief that it was the ideal distance for her stable star was justified with her first Grade 1 victory.
There had been high hopes of success ahead of the race, lining up as second-favourite and follows his unfortunate exit from the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham. Quinlan was unseated in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) at Cheltenham last month, despite going off as favourite, having been badly hampered at the sixth fence of the two-mile showpiece.
The same fate was not to befall the duo this time, however with Kalashnikov moving nicely up the field to break off as part of a trio spearheaded by 6/4 favourtie La Bague Au Roi.
Quinlan made his move three fences from home and survived a mistake at the second-last before holding off La Bague Au Roi in a thrilling finale.
Speaking to Racing TV, Quinlan said: "It is unbelievable really. You work all your life - all the early mornings, all the late nights - this makes it all worthwhile."