Murphy’s Kalashnikov agonisingly close at Cheltenham

Jack Quinlan, Kalashnikov and Amy Murphy
Jack Quinlan, Kalashnikov and Amy Murphy

The Amy Murphy-trained Kalashnikov was pipped late on by Summerville Boy in the Grade 1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival this afternoon.

With four victories from his five career outings — including winning the Betfair Hurdle last time out — Murphy’s five-year-old went off as the 5/1 second favourite in the Festival’s opening race.

However, that one defeat came at the hands of Summerville Boy during January’s 32Red Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle and history ended up repeating itself on jump racing’s biggest stage.

Positioned handily early on by jockey Jack Quinlan, Kalashnikov settled well as favourite Getabird led the field under Ruby Walsh.

Encouraged along two fences from home by Quinlan — a former St Benedict’s School pupil — the son of Kalanisi hit the front and after clearing the last with the lead intact, victory was very much in sight.

But, having recovered from a mistake at the second last, Summerville Boy (9/1) made up the ground to deny Hamilton Road’s Murphy a big triumph on her Cheltenham debut.

The combination of Murphy and Quinlan will go again at the Festival on Thursday with Mercian Prince in the Grade 3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (4.10pm).