The Amy Murphy trained Kalashnikov will start his season off over hurdles in the Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at the weekend and the race will be used as a stepping stone to some big chase targets throughout the term.
The seven year old has shown during his career how smart he can be over both hurdles and fences, finishing a narrow second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in his first season over timber.
After that he went chasing and having always been bought to go over the bigger obstacles and in his first season, won his first two events and then went on to place in the Grade Two Wayward Lads Novices' Chase at Kempton.
After being pulled up at Cheltenham in the Arkle, he was sent to the Grand National meeting at Aintree and he managed to bounce back and land his first Grade One for the yard in the Manifesto Novices' Chase.
Last term he started his campaign off back at Aintree in the Old Roan Chase and could only finish second to Forest Bihan and although finishing second at Newbury in a decent handicap event, his form has dropped off massively.
Murphy is hoping that the spin over hurdles can give him his confidence back with the seven year old showing he still holds bundles of ability and can still be a smart runner over fences this term.
(Credit ATR) Murphy said: “We’re very much planning to run as long as it is not bottomless.
“He stayed two and a half miles well last year. Obviously he’s had a few issues, so this is very much a starting point for him.
“We’ll just take it as it comes for the rest of the season – if he loves it on Saturday he could stay over hurdles, but the plan is just to get him back on song – fingers crossed we have no more bleeding episodes.
“Prior to those last two runs, he’d never been out of the first two (when completing) and both times he bled.
“We’ve put everything into getting him back. We’ve given him plenty of time, we’ve freshened him up and please God it was something underlying rather than him having an issue.”