As the new jumps season approaches, many people will have their list of horses to look out for. One horse that I expect will be on most lists will be Kalashnikov. He is a young five year old who is about to embark on an exciting chase career.
Kalashnikov is a horse that many people will already know thanks to his exploits over hurdles last season. But it is over fences where his true future lies. He looks made to be a chaser and whether it is at two miles or two and a half miles is up for debate. I think he’s going to make a huge splash this season.
I imagine he will start off somewhere easy, he is only five after all. But towards the end of the season, we are going to see him run at all the big festivals including the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree Grand National Festival. He ran at Cheltenham last season and was beaten by a neck in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on day one of the meetings. I think we will see him back there in March of 2019.
What race he runs in remains to be seen, but he certainly has enough pace to run in the Arkle over two miles if that is the route they take. It would be no surprise to see him tried at slightly further and it could be that his eventual optimum trip turns out to be two and a half miles when he has more experience under him and he is a year or two older.
It isn’t just the Cheltenham Festival where he will be targeted though. His liking for a flat track means that Aintree would be ideal for him. We have seen him register wins at Doncaster, Newbury and Wetherby over hurdles, all of which are very similar in makeup to Aintree. The flat track would also allow him to step up in trip if trainer Amy Murphy thought the time was right to do that. If he can get two and a half miles anywhere, he will get it at Aintree.
One thing is for sure, he won’t be kept away from racing. We saw him run five times last season and the same can be expected again. He looks to be a tough, durable horse who takes racing well so there is a chance that we could see more of him if he ends up winning a couple of uncompetitive novice chase races with ease.
There is a big problem with the novice chase schedule at the moment, and we see a lot of uncompetitive races so it would be no surprise to see him in races with just two or three other runners.
The new season is upon us and if you are making a list of horses to follow for the season then be sure to have Kalashnikov towards the top, he should make a lovely chaser this season and going forward.