Glen Forsa floors Kalashnikov at Sandown
Last Updated: 15/02/19 2:43pm
Glen Forsa inflicted a shock defeat on leading Arkle Trophy contender Kalashnikov in the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Sandown.
Rescheduled following the abandonment of racing at Warwick last week due to the outbreak of equine influenza, the Grade Two contest attracted just four runners - and that number was reduced by one after Dalila Du Seuil was withdrawn at the start.
Kalashnikov - runner-up in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March - made a fine start to his career over fences with successive victories at Warwick and Plumpton.
Amy Murphy's stable star was beaten by the now-sidelined Dynamite Dollars in the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton on his most recent outing, but was nevertheless the 1-4 favourite to bounce back to winning ways under Jack Quinlan.
The Mick Channon-trained Glen Forsa was stepping up in grade following handicap triumphs at Chepstow and Kempton and was immediately sent to the front by Jonathan Burke, with Kalashnikov on his tail for much of the two-mile journey.
The pair went at it racing down the back straight and it was Glen Forsa who was much the slicker in the jumping department, propelling him into a clear lead rounding the home turn.
It was soon clear Channon's 7-2 chance had the odds-on favourite's measure and he safely negotiated the remaining two obstacles to seal a most impressive 19-length victory, which saw Paddy Power cut him to 8-1 for the Arkle and 6-1 for the longer JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham next month.
Jack Channon, assistant to his father, said: "That was very impressive.
"We've always thought he was very decent. I thought two and half miles was probably his trip, but I've been proved wrong today as he has got enough pace for the two miles.
"He put a very good horse in Kalashnikov under pressure from a long way out and he jumped and stayed, and that won the day in the end.
he is in that and the JLT and we will look at both
"I think you would struggle not to look at the Arkle, but he is in that and the JLT and we will look at both and see how he comes out of this race and train him for Cheltenham. Either way we know we've got a nice horse to take to the Festival.
"He was still a baby at Kempton and has put on weight since then. He had a little setback which has tested us and the lass who rides him out every day has done a fantastic job.
"It is quite an emotional performance really, as we've worked very hard for that."
The stewards inquired into the performance of Kalashnikov, but a post-race examination failed to reveal any abnormalities.
Murphy said: "I think either way that was very disappointing. Jack said he didn't feel his usual self so we will go back and check him over and check we are not missing something.
"Take nothing away from the winner, he is a very nice horse and when I saw him canter down to post I thought 'what a lovely horse'. I'm delighted for them, but we will regroup with him.
"He will definitely go to Cheltenham, but which race we go for we might have to think about. We might have to step him up in trip."