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Aiming for the Arkle: Murphy delighted as Kalashnikov strikes on chase debut

Kalashnikov advertised his Racing Post Arkle claims with a successful start to his chasing career at Warwick on Friday.

Liverpool and England footballing legend John Barnes was on hand at the Midlands track to present the prize to winning connections and he would have been impressed with the fancy footwork shown by Kalashnikov at his fences, with the 1-4 shot winning the 2m novice chase by 11 lengths from Huntsman Son.

Last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up looked like an odds-on chance in the paddock before the the four-runner contest and he delivered like one, for despite a few minor errors early doors, it was an impressive enough start.

Jockey Jack Quinlan was keen to teach the five-year-old something on the first of three likely outings on the road to the Arkle, for which he was trimmed to a general 6-1 (from 7s) but is as short as 9-2 in a place.

No other horse in the Arkle market is shorter than 14-1, with Irish-trained pair Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue both available at around that price.

Afterwards winning rider Quinlan said: "Kalashnikov made one or two novicey mistakes, which he was entitled to as that was the fastest he's been over a fence. He has put in a good round and brushed them aside in the straight."

Kalashnikov's young trainer Amy Murphy was relieved to get the race out of the way, saying: "That was very much like sending your kid to school on the first day of term, but Kalashnikov put in a safe round of jumping and it was job done.

"It's all about learning a lot here and he was only about 85 per cent fit as we've not been able to use the grass gallops that much. He wanted to go long at the first ditch, but Jack said, 'Come here and learn your lesson while you can'. You'd have to be delighted with that."

Before the reappearance of her stable star, Murphy had studied the various routes to the festival. She plans on giving her rising star two runs this side of the new year and one the other.

The trainer said: "There are no set races but all roads lead to the Arkle and we may look at Plumpton next month as they're putting on a bonus, but we will do right by the horse.

"That's essentially a route Voy Por Ustedes took, and after that we could run him at Kempton over Christmas, which seems a good fit."

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