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Kalashnikov to take on Grand National meet




Kalashnikov may not have had luck on his side in last month’s fall at Cheltenham, but trainer Amy Murphy hopes the Luck of the Irish will shine down on the Sunnyhill Stud product in the opening race of the 2019 Aintree Grand National Meeting.

The six-year-old gelding is set to line up for today’s Devenish Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) race (1.45pm) at the Liverpool racecourse, less than a month after the ‘frustration’ of jockey Jack Quinlan being unseated in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1).

And the Hamilton Stables trainer is in buoyant mood about her stable star’s prospects – who will again be ridden by Quinlan – in his final race of the season.

Amy Murphy, Southgate Stables trainer, with Aintree-bound Kalashnikov (April 2019). Picture: Geoffrey Pieters (8238983)
Amy Murphy, Southgate Stables trainer, with Aintree-bound Kalashnikov (April 2019). Picture: Geoffrey Pieters (8238983)

“He’s in great form,” she said. “And it’s a great chance to bounce back from the disappointment of Cheltenham and put it behind us.

“It’s one of those where you’re so grateful they were both okay (jockey Quinlan was knocked out of the saddle by the trailing leg of a faller) looking back but, at the time, it was so frustrating.

“He had a great chance.

“So we’re just really looking forward to it and fingers crossed – with the fences and the course, I think it is a bit of a lottery.”

The son of Kalanisi will be competing for the first time over a distance of more than 2m1f with the course set at 2m3f200y, but this, Murphy said, is the distance she expects the horse to excel at.

Although beaten by fellow entrant Glen Forsa at Sandown Park in February, Murphy has said that Kalashnikov prefers left-handed tracks and so will be better suited to the course at Aintree. She is also optimistic about the going at Aintree on Thursday, with the weather conditions set to favour Kalashnikov.

Hawthorn Cottage, an Amy Murphy-trained horse that will ride in the Goffs UK Nickel Coun Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) at Aintree April 2019. Picture: Geoffrey Pieters (8238979)
Hawthorn Cottage, an Amy Murphy-trained horse that will ride in the Goffs UK Nickel Coun Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) at Aintree April 2019. Picture: Geoffrey Pieters (8238979)

But, with two second places and an unseated in his last three outings, Kalashnikov is in need of a win to ensure he maintains his high-standing.

He is one of three that Murphy has entered for the famous race meeting held from Thursday until Saturday, with Hawthorne Cottage due to race in the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) in the final race of today (5.15pm) before Mercian Prince is due to race in Friday’s 4.05pm Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3).

Murphy said it was only the second year the stables were involved at the Grand National festival, one of the premier jump meets on the calendar.

“It’s just very exciting,” she said.

Kalashnikov leads Hawthorn Cottage out on the gallops ahead of their trip to Aintree for the Grand National meeting - Amy Murphy. Picture: Geoffrey Pieters (8238977)
Kalashnikov leads Hawthorn Cottage out on the gallops ahead of their trip to Aintree for the Grand National meeting - Amy Murphy. Picture: Geoffrey Pieters (8238977)


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