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Wednesday 27th February 2019
Is Kalashnikov’s Big, Big Price Worth a Punt in the Arkle?

Make no mistake about it: Amy Murphy has a conundrum on her hands for the Cheltenham Festival, as she must decide what to do with her star turn, Kalashnikov.  The 6-year-old’s performance in the Kingmaker Novice Chase at Sandown last week was not fluent, nor will it instil much confidence in those who have backed Kalashnikov for the Arkle in the ante post markets.

 A 19-length defeat at the hands of Glen Forsa meant that the bookies have pulled the trigger on Kalashnikov in the Arkle Chase, dropping back from among the favourites to an intriguing 20/1 with Betfair. Some outlets, however, have kept Kalashnikov quite low. Betway, for example, are still 6/1 on Kalashnikov.

Indeed, the Arkle has finally opened up after a period of months with no clear favourite. Kalashnikov, Lalor, and Le Richebourg all had, at least, a very brief period as ante post favourite with one or more bookmakers. Le Richebourg now leads the way on his own, with a best price of 10/3 coming from William Hill.

Glen Forsa’s odds slashed

Beating Kalashnikov is quite the scalp, of course, so it’s unsurprising that Glen Forsa has entered the fray after the Kingmaker victory. His best odds seem to be the 9/1 on offer from 888sport and Hills, but he is as low as 5/1 with some outlets. Lalor comes in about 4/1 generally, with Cilaos Emery available at around 5/1. The erratic, but capable, Defi Du Seuil has a price ranging from 8/1 (SkyBet) up to 16/1 (Coral).

It looks like a fairly interesting line up, but the question is: Will Kalashnikov have a role to play in it? Amy Murphy has said she is considering a longer trip for her charge, with the JLT Novices’ Chase a possibility. Betfair go 18/1 on Kalashnikov for that one, with Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation the favourites at 7/2 and 5/1 respectively.

It could be argued that Kalashnikov still has enough to offer in either race. While he was fairly terrible in the Kingmaker, it should be remembered that it was the first time in his career that he has been badly beaten. Sure, Summerville Boy had his number a couple of times over hurdles last year, but there is still enough left in Kalashnikov to believe he become the horse Murphy maintains he can be.

Murphy convinced of Kalashnikov’s class

The more pertinent worry is that, as so often is the case, the uncharacteristically sluggish performance at Sandown is, in fact, a symptom of an underlying cause. Murphy said that they would have to have some checks on the horse in the coming weeks, but also added that he would “definitely go to Cheltenham.”

In the end, one could argue that it’s worth taking those odds on either race. Here’s the kicker, though: you will obviously want to take NRNB, and most bookies are currently only offering that for the four feature races. The advice is to keep an eye on the Cheltenham betting 2019 for all the latest updates, because there is a fair chance those odds of 20/1 for the Arkle and 18/1 for the JLT will tumble when it becomes clear where Kalashnikov is headed.

There is, of course, plenty in the way of class acts in both races. However, should Kalashnikov be fully fit, he has the beating of any of them. Part of the art at Cheltenham is picking those who could bounce back with a victory at big prices – Kalashnikov could be the very type to do so.

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