Amy Murphy admits she is on cloud nine after claiming the biggest victory of her training career with Kalashnikov in the Betfair Hurdle.
The Newmarket trainer watched on in delight as Jack Quinlan rode the five-year-old to victory by four-and-a-half lengths in the Grade 3 race, which is the richest handicap hurdle run on British soil, at Newbury on Saturday.
And with Kalashnikov now priced as a general 8/1 chance for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month, Murphy has her sights set on challenging at the famous festival in four weeks’ time.
“It was unbelievable,” the Hamilton Road-based trainer said. “It was a fantastic day and was the sort of stuff dreams are made of.
“It’s his best win by a huge way. To come first in this, in a big field, and beat some Grade 1 horses who were in there too.
“It’s what you strive to do. I didn’t think we’d be able to find a horse of this calibre this early on, it’s what you dream to do.”
At just 25, Murphy is the youngest trainer in Britain, and only started her career in September of 2016, when she moved in to Hamilton Stables, based on Hamilton Road, adjacent to Newmarket’s Rowley Mile racecourse.
Quinlan, who rode Kalashnikov to Saturday’s landmark victory, said: “It’s fantastic and both Amy and her father (Paul) have been wonderful to me.
“With Amy being a young trainer starting out, it would have been easy to put the horse into the hands of someone more experienced on the big days.
“It makes my job as a jockey much easier going out there if you know you have the confidence of the connections behind you.
“We have loved him from day one and he has continued to improve with every run.
“You see the size of him and how well he has jumped out there — he is going to be even better over fences next year.”
Kalashnikov now has four wins from five starts, having also won at Wetherby (twice) and Doncaster last year, before finishing second in the Grade 1 32Red Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown last month.
Having already been on the list of early entries for two races at the Cheltenham Festival, Murphy is now expected to pick the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for Kalashnikov.
“The Supreme is what we’re pencilled in for now at Cheltenham,” she said.
“I think it will be all systems go for Cheltenham as he has proved that he can handle a big competitive field and he has every right to be there.
“I think the better the ground, the better it is for him. He is such a lovely- actioned horse that I think he will only improve for it.”