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Murphy still favouring Racing Post Arkle for Kingmaker flop Kalashnikov

Glen Forsa - Jonathan Burke wins from Kalashnikov - Jack QuinlanThe Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices' Chase (Grade 2)Sandown Park 15.2.19©
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Amy Murphy is still favouring the Racing Post Arkle for stable star Kalashnikov despite him finishing a disappointing second, beaten 19 lengths by Glen Forsa, in the rearranged Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Sandown on Friday.

His lacklustre performance in the 1m7½f Grade 2 had led many to wonder whether a step up in trip may be in order for the six-year-old at Cheltenham next month.

Bookmakers clearly thought so, extending the six-year-old to a best-priced 20-1 with Betfair for the Arkle but no bigger than 16-1 for the JLT Novices' Chase, over the longer trip of 2m4f.

However, Murphy is sticking to the original plan and reported on Saturday: "He's fine, he was out in the paddock this morning and hopefully we'll be able to look back on Sandown and say it's just one of those runs you can put a line through. Nothing's come to light but it just wasn't him.

"The plan is still the Arkle. I went back and watched every race he's ever run last night and whether it's his Betfair Hurdle win, his second in the Supreme, either of his two novice chase wins, or his second at Kempton, he doesn't lack for speed.

"He'll be kept in both Cheltenham races for now, and the JLT is an option, but I don't see any reason to abandon the plan just yet and we'll stick to our guns."

Lalor: made exciting start to chasing career at Cheltenham last month

Another horse going straight to the Arkle after disappointing in a Graded novice chase at Sandown is the Kayley Woollacott-trained seven-year-old Lalor, who was third of six, beaten 12 lengths, when last seen in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase.

He will not race again before the festival, but Woollacott is keen to get extra work into him as part of his preparation.

She said: "I'm hoping to give him a racecourse gallop towards the back end of next week, but it's not confirmed yet.

"He's in great form and it's just a case of keeping our fingers crossed now, we put him out every morning and hope he's still sound in the evening."

Lalor is the 9-2 second favourite for the Arkle behind the Joseph O’Brien-trained Le Richebourg, who tops the market at around 3-1.

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I don't see any reason to abandon the plan just yet and we'll stick to our guns
E.W. Terms