Kalashnikov fires home in £155,000 Betfair Hurdle on Betfair Super Saturday
Newbury Racecourse staged Betfair Super Saturday today, February 10, which saw a great performance from the novice Kalashnikov to land the £155,000 G3 Betfair Hurdle, Britain’s richest handicap hurdle.
Kalashnikov is trained in Newmarket by Amy Murphy, who became the third female trainer to land the prestigious two-mile contest after Nan Kennedy (Ra Nova 1984) and Jessica Harrington (Spirit Leader 2003).
Elsewhere on the card, the mighty Altior made a hugely-impressive seasonal reappearance in the G2 Betfair Exchange Chase and now heads to the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham next month.
Another horse making his seasonal reappearance was Native River, who set himself up for another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup when landing the G2 Betfair Denman Chase for the second year in succession.
The going for the seven-race card was Soft.
Below can be found a race-by-race account for all seven races on Betfair Super Saturday.
The next action at Newbury Racecourse is Mencap Charity Raceday on Friday, March 2 and Greatwood Charity Raceday on Saturday, March 3.
3.35pm £155,000 Betfair Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 69y
Kalashnikov (Amy Murphy/Jack Quinlan, 11st 5lb, 8/1 Co Fav) was the impressive winner of the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, Britain’s richest handicap hurdle. His trainer, Amy Murphy is based in Newmarket and only began training in 2016.
A novice who had won three of his four starts going into today’s race, the five-year-old Kalashnikov is owned by the trainer’s father Paul Murphy.
Settled in mid-division, Kalashnikov made significant progress three flights from home and took up the running approaching two out, staying on strongly after the last to score by four and a half lengths from Irish challenger Bleu Et Rouge (Willie Mullins/Barry Geraghty, 11st 10lb, 10/1), with another eight lengths back to the third Spiritofthegames (Dan Skelton/Bridget Andrew (3), 11st, 20/1).
A delighted Amy Murphy said: “It’s unbelievable – I am lost for words!
“I couldn’t see him in the early part of the race but when they turned in I could see what was left of his mud-splattered white face.
“He proved that he had every right to come here after the Tolworth and novices have such a good chance in this race. I thought that we should come and have a crack at it because he wouldn’t have a weight like this again.
“I think he has proved that he can go for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham now. He would have had a hard race on that ground – although he has done it nicely, I am sure that it will have taken a bit out of him. 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.
“We have loved him from day one and the good ones train themselves – I just have to hang on daily.
“I wish my father was here today but he’s actually in the air on the way to South Africa. Hopefully, he will be straight on the phone when he lands.
“He was one of the biggest horses in the paddock today and is a lovely, big chasing type and that is what he is bred for, being from the family of Kicking King. Anything he is doing now is a huge bonus.
Jack [Quinlan, jockey] is so under-rated and I always get angry that he doesn’t get more rides. He is such a good jockey and has formed a really good partnership with this horse. They are going places together.”
Jack Quinlan added: “Kalashnikov is a horse that we think an awful lot of and, on good to soft ground, we would have really fancied him. The rain was a bit of a worry because he got a bit bogged down in the heavy at Sandown and, to be fair to him, he hasn’t enjoyed it through the first mile.
“His class has brought him through – he is just so tough and brave in those conditions. He is only a five-year-old and that was only his fifth start, so he’s entitled to mature all the time and he has improved since Sandown.
“It’s fantastic and both Amy and her father have been wonderful to me. They have shown great loyalty and faith in 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 our 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.
“I rode some good horses for Mr (John) Ferguson when he was training, including a Grade 2 win on Cotton Mill, but today is the biggest win of my career.”
Willie Mullins said of the runner-up Bleu Et Rouge: “That was a good run.
“Considering he was giving the winner plenty of weight in that ground, I’m very happy with him.
“He will be entered in some of the handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival and we will make a decision as to where he goes at a later date, but I think he will definitely head there.”
Kalashnikov after his Betfair Hurdle success
Amy Murphy and Jack Quinlan
3.00pm £50,000 Betfair Exchange Chase (Grade 2) 2m 92y
Altior (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville, 1/3 Fav) remains unbeaten over fences as he made a winning reappearance in the G2 Betfair Exchange Chase.
The eight-year-old landed the G1 Arkle Novices’ Chase and G1 Celebration Chase last spring but had been on the sidelines so far this season after undergoing a wind operation.
Held up in last of the three runners, Altior made smooth progress to challenge Politologue (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies, 5/2) at the last and surged clear on the run-in to score by a comfortable four lengths. Valdez (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson, 25/1) was another 13 lengths adrift in third.
A delighted Nicky Henderson said: “If I had dreamt what was going to happen, that would’ve been just about it. He took a blow between the last two but it was exactly what we wanted and he didn’t make a noise.
“He is in brilliant form. He has had three bits of work since Sandown in April. He had a good blow and that is not his ground, but he’s jumped well out of it.
“He’s travelled well, he has so many gears and he has just got class – he is just pure class. He’s very good. His work is so easy and whilst we have a wonderful bunch of horses, not many can go with him so it’s quite hard to sacrificing horses to work with him!
“There must be a lot of improvement in him. His weight was good, he wasn’t far off where he should be. He is not going to run again until March so hopefully there are no further issues or problems, but you have to say that was just perfection.
“If he was going to get beaten that was today, he was more vulnerable today than he was ever going to be, but he’s beaten some good horses there and that was superb.
“It was going to be tactical today and I didn’t know who was going to do what. That was exactly what we wanted – this horse has got so much pace and I was fairly confident that, if he could get to the second-last upsides on the bridle, it would be a very hard horse that go with him from there.
“He has to improve a lot but he has a nice time. That was perfection from my point of view – the timing was good, he hasn’t had a hard race, he hasn’t had his ground but has beaten a good horse.
“Altior has to win in March and then he is getting close to the big boys’ shoes. We have always said that they are very, very big feet and this guy’s feet are getting a little bit bigger as we along but that was a big step in a big direction.”
Nico de Boinville added: “He felt fantastic. That ground would have been softer than ideal but he has handled it well and I couldn’t hear any noises or anything like that. It was a big effort from everybody in the yard to get him back to today and it has probably come a bit earlier than we wanted but all credit to the guv’nor and Toby Lawes, who rides him every day at home.
“We knew coming here that he was very fresh and very well. We haven’t been able to do much because the ground has been so frosty this week but he was very good there.”
Owner John Hales said of the runner-up Politologue: “We were beaten by a better horse on the day.
“The winner is an exceptional horse but we will take him on again.”
Sam Twiston-Davies added: “There was nothing disappointing about it. He has jumped, travelled and done everything right but was just beaten by a very good horse. He’s a freak.
“Nico told me he was going to make it but he didn’t, so I did and I went a nice, even gallop. It was a fair animal to get past because we really picked up after the ditch and winged all the way up the straight.”
Altior (right) on his way to winning the Betfair Exchange Chase
2.25pm £50,000 Betfair Denman Chase (Grade 2) 2m 7f 86y
Native River (Colin Tizzard/Richard Johnson, 8/11 Fav) became the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the £50,000 G2 Betfair Denman Chase, setting himself up for another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race in which he finished third in 2017.
The eight-year-old made all the running, jumping well throughout. He pulled right away from the second last to score by 12 lengths from Cloudy Dream (Ruth Jefferson/Brian Hughes, 11/4) with Saphir Du Rheu (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies, 100/30) another 24 lengths back in third.
Colin Tizzard said: “It’s an absolute relief. We have all seen what he can do last year and the two greys were going very well on the cross-fence. When he starts to lengthen his stride, he is so fluent and fast – he is just a good horse. He came away and you couldn’t have asked for any more.
“He has that lobbing stride. He honestly wouldn’t beat anything on our gallops – we worked him Thursday and he went down by three or four lengths over four and a half furlongs – but that’s just him.
“That was a lovely prep for the Gold Cup. As long as he is alright over the next 10 days, the dream is still alive. We couldn’t miss this race if we wanted to go for the Gold Cup and it has worked out fine.”
“That was just what we wanted for his first run back. My biggest worry was that the meeting would be frosted off and we would run out of options before Cheltenham.
“He has hardly blown when he came back in. He is an exceptional horse. We had to wait for his ligament to heal. It wasn’t a bad injury but we just had to wait and that is why he wasn’t out before Christmas.
“We will now go straight to Cheltenham with him. We will go to Cheltenham fresh this year whereas some of the other contenders have had hard races already. The stable wasn’t in great form going into Cheltenham last year – I think we had gone 52 runners without a winner.
“Native River had won the Hennessy, Welsh National and this race before Cheltenham last season, so had had a long campaign. Whether it was that or the stable form that beat us at Cheltenham, I don’t know. We were beaten by two very horses at Cheltenham.”
Richard Johnson added: “It’s a funny race when you have three runners like that and Native River is coming back from the best part of a year without a run. They were very happy with him at home but nobody wanted to give him a really hard race today.
“He is almost better when you are aggressive on him but he enjoyed his jumping today and when I really did ask him over the last three or four fences, he answered every call and did it with enthusiasm.
“I think that he is back in great form and, if he can run the same race as he did in the Gold Cup last year, it has to give him every chance again this year. It looks a very open race – it’s still a very toughrace like it is every year – but he can’t be too far away if he can reproduce that run.
“He has had nice time today. He has that little bit of class and that’s what makes him into a G1 horse. He has picked up well from the ditch home and it was almost the perfect comeback run. He hasn’t had a really hard race but has had to also get stuck in.
“I was chatting to the Tizzards just after the summer and it was a very small problem that he had but they decided that he wasn’t really a King George horse. They planned to come here and go to the Gold Cup because that is the race that everybody wants to win.”
Trainer Ruth Jefferson said of the runner-up Cloudy Dream: “Cloudy Dream jumped really well, he’s just hasn’t stayed over three miles on this ground.
“We’ll now go for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s not an easy race but that’s where we’ll head.
“He’s run a nice race today. Today they’ve gone an honest gallop from start to finish. He has jumped and travelled and just done everything right – he just hasn’t quite seen the trip out to suggest a Gold Cup would suit him, so we’ll go for the Ryanair this time.
“Aintree and the Betway Bowl is something to potentially look at. Aintree is an easier and sharper track and the three miles there won’t be as much as a problem for him.”
Rest of the card
1.15pm £10,400 Read Paul Nicholls Exclusively At Betfair Novices’ Hurdle 2m 69y
The opening Read Paul Nicholls Exclusively At Betfair Novices’ Hurdle saw an easy success for Evens favourite Whatswrongwithyou (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville).
The seven-year-old travelled well throughout and hit the front approaching two from home. He pulled right away on the run-in to score by nine lengths from Rockpoint (Colin Tizzard/Nick Scholfield, 4/1) with Another Crick (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson, 40/1) another three-quarters of a length back in third.
Nicky Henderson said: “To be fair, Air Navigator looked the biggest danger and he unfortunately unseated at the first, which made it look a weak race.
“Whatswrongwithyou is going the right way. He beat OK Corral (a winner yesterday at Kempton Park) here last time when getting weight. He and OK Corral are seven and eight and still running in novice hurdles which tells you the problems with have had with them both. Whatswrongwithyou didn’t get his name for nothing!
“He is not entered in anything. We will see what the handicapper does. He travels well and loves this ground.”
Nico de Boinville added: “The race fell apart at the first. I was thinking who to follow as he is a horse who you can’t get there too soon. In his ideal world, I have got there too soon but there was nothing to go with and he has quickened up really well.
“He loves that ground and I don’t think that I would run him on good ground. He has a really nice action and motors through it, so I think that he is a real mid-winter horse. I think chasing will be his game and those mid-winter chases over two miles will be right up his street.”
1.50pm £20,000 Betfair Cash Out Handicap Hurdle 3m 52y
Talkischeap (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson, 11st, 11/1) surprised both trainer Alan King and jockey Wayne Hutchinson with how well he handled the soft ground as he recorded an ultimately comfortable victory in the three-mile Betfair Cash Out Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old was held up off the pace before making smooth headway to move into a challenging position two out. He took up the running approaching the last and stayed on well to see off the staying-on King Uther (Chris Gordon/Richard Johnson, 10st 4lb, 5/2) by two and a quarter lengths with Book Of Gold (Oliver Sherwood/Conor Shoemark, 10st 4lb, 9/1) another half-length back in third.
Alan King said: “We hummed and haahed yesterday about whether to declare him yesterday as I have always thought that he wanted good ground. I told Charles (Dingwall – owner) that we really could do with a running him ahead of Cheltenham. All his good form is on spring ground but he travelled very well through the race.
“I am delighted with him. He is in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and we will also look at the handicaps, possibly the Coral Cup. He is not qualified for the Pertemps.
“Our other runner, Bastien, is handicapped up to the hilt at the moment.”
Wayne Hutchinson added: “I was really worried with the ground for this lad today and I have ridden him to keep saving with that in mind.
“I didn’t want to let him down too early on the ground and fair dues to him because he will be a better horse on better ground. This was his first try over three miles today and it’s great to get his head in front.”
4.10pm £13,800 Betfair Each Way Edge Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase 2m 7f 86y
The David Dennis-trained Indy Five (Trevor Whelan,, 10st 3lb, 7/1) made it back-to-back victories in the Betfair Each Way Edge Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase as he made all to register an emphatic 12-length success in the sixth race on Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury.
Ridden by Trevor Whelan, the eight-year-old jumped well throughout the three mile contest and sauntered to victory in the closing stages, with Nicky Henderson’s Reigning Supreme (Nico de Boinville, 10st 12lb, 5/1) 12 lengths back in second.
Winning trainer David Dennis said: “We won this race last year with Final Nudge but I didn’t work that out until I got here! That was a good performance, he jumped very well and got into a nice rhythm.
“He was unfortunate when he fell last time but he’s put it that right today. He isn’t a fast horse in his work air home, but he gets into a nice rhythm and he keeps galloping and that was important in today’s race.”
Winning jockey Trevor Whelan, said: “He got into a nice rhythm and he enjoyed getting his own way in front as he’s quite a highly strung horse. He jumped really well and he had plenty left up the straight. He picked up well all the way to the line.”
4.40pm £20,000 Best Odds Guaranteed At Betfair Bumper (Listed) 2m 69y
Acey Milan (Anthony Honeyball/Brian Hughes, 11/2) landed the concluding Listed Best Odds Guaranteed At Betfair Bumper by an impressive 11 lengths.
Travelling well throughout, the four-year-old took the lead in the last quarter mile and lengthened well for a comfortable victory. Woulduadamandeveit (Sue Gardener/Lucy Gardener, 20/1) stayed on to take second with 3/1 joint-favourite Good Boy Bobby (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies) a further two lengths adrift in third.
Anthony Honeyball said: “That was very good.
“He is a nice horse and has progressed well. We knew after his win at Cheltenham last time that he goes on this ground. He was the baby of the field as he is still only four.
“I guess we will now have to look at the Cheltenham and Aintree bumpers now. He has had quite a few runs already and it is possible he has bottomed out. We will freshen him up and see how he is.
“He is a horse with a good stride and could be anything. When he won the Listed junior bumper at Cheltenham we treated it like it was his Gold Cup. He won that day and has won again today. He could be something special.
“He has come away like a good horse today and the way he travels I think he should have no problems with better ground.”
About Newbury Racecourse
Newbury Racecourse held its first race in 1905 and has long been one of Britain’s leading tracks, staging up to 30 days of top class Jump and Flat racing annually, with at least one raceday in every month of the year.
The highlight of Newbury’s Jump racing programme is the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy, a handicap chase over an extended three and a quarter miles, which takes place on December 1 in 2018.
On the Flat, Newbury’s high-quality programme includes the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in May, with the Group One race over a mile worth £350,000.
The racecourse is also a thriving events venue, hosting a huge range of activities including weddings, concerts, and conferences for 20 to 1,000 attendees for a wide spectrum of businesses and organisations in stunning surroundings. In addition, it runs a successful private nursery, providing a safe, happy and stimulating learning environment for many pre-school children.
Newbury is now home to a major housing development by David Wilson Homes, allowing people to live in a unique location alongside a world-renowned sporting venue, which also benefits from a Nuffield Health Club.
The racecourse now has its own 36-bedroom hotel, The Lodge, which opened in June, 2016.
The £20-million ‘heartspace’ redevelopment of the Racecourse, which began in 2016, is now well underway.
August, 2017 saw the new Eastern Entrance opened as well as a re-modelled pre-parade ring, which was first used in the spring along with an enlarged parade ring and winner’s enclosure with enhanced viewing for racegoers.
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