Trainer Amy Murphy admits she’d prefer if Kalashnikov was racing left-handed, though she isn’t being put off by his chances in the re-routed Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park (13:50).
The race was originally set for Warwick last weekend but it became a casualty of the equine flu scare, as British racing went on lockdown for six days.
The Grade 2 contest has been saved, but it is now being run instead at Sandown, ensuring last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up will be going right-handed once more.
That Cheltenham Festival second is one of three career defeats suffered by Kalashnikov so far, with the other two coming when he has run right-handed, including in last season’s Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
He ran a fine second by Dynamite Dollars in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase over Christmas going this way around Kempton and, according to Murphy, is isn’t a massive concern for the 1/2 favourite.
“He’s in great form – we’re delighted with him at home. We’d love to be going left-handed, but it’s either run here or don’t run him at all before Cheltenham. It’s not like he has a problem going right-handed, I just think he prefers going the other way,” said the trainer.
Mick Channon’s improving Glen Forsa, winner of back-to-back handicaps at Chepstow and Kempton is among those trying to upset the favourite in the four-runner contest. He is 4/1 to turn over Kalashnikov in the Kingmaker and his trainer says he’ll know plenty more after today’s race.
“We need to get another run in if we want to go to Cheltenham,” said the former England striker Channon.
“He’s in great form and we’re very hopeful he’ll run well. He’s in everything at Cheltenham – the Arkle, the JLT and the Close Brothers (Novices’ Handicap Chase). We should have a better idea of where we’re going after this.”
Kalashnikov trades at 5/1 with Betfred to win the Arkle at Cheltenham next month, while Glen Forsa is a 33/1 hope for that prestigious contest.
‘odds subject to change’