You know the season is properly up and running when you see the name Kalashnikov pencilled in to the racing calendar.
After what’s felt like an eternity in terms of fine tuning and preparation he’s ready to start off, so to that end I’ve given him an entry at Warwick on Friday in the two mile novices’ chase (2.00pm).
Speaking on Monday, he still has to do his final piece of fast work and make sure we’re all 100% happy that this is the right point to kick-off his campaign, but his regular jockey Jack Quinlan is here riding out every day, so between us we’ll make a firm decision later in the week.
What I can report is that he looks a million dollars and has been really attacking his fences on the schooling grounds here in Newmarket. He certainly has the size, scope and physique for the chasing game.
It gives everyone at the yard a lift knowing he’s nearly ready to roll, and a track like Warwick would hopefully prove to be an ideal introduction as he jumps the larger obstacles in public for the first time – though I have to stress his participation is very much ground dependent.
The current dry conditions are a significant concern, and if the weather fails to relent and no rain arrives we may wait for a similar test at Wetherby later in the month (17th).
Either way, I notice FansBet are offering 6/1* at this stage about him for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March – I really hope time proves they’re right to do so!
From looking forward to looking back, we had a great day at Huntingdon on Sunday as Lazarus put his head in front for the first time, taking the opening claiming hurdle.
Our sole representative on a quiet day, Lazarus got a lovely ride from Sean Houlihan, tracking the leaders and then ridden to challenge two out, eventually running out a length and three quarters to the good at odds of 11/4.
As it was a claiming race I put in what’s known as a ‘friendly claim’, effectively making sure I retained him in what is a version of an auction race. I was keen to do so – Lazarus is only four, well bred, and surely has his best days ahead of him.
He runs for the Amy Murphy Racing Club and it was great to have several syndicate members present to cheer him home at one of our local tracks. A perfect outcome. He is a horse for readers to follow.
Speaking of equine coming and goings, one who has departed for new surroundings with our best wishes is our listed winner Happy Odyssey, who understandably remains in France with a new stable after her Group 3 run last week.
Ideally suited by the demands of racing over there, I can perfectly understand why her owners would make such a choice having only recently purchased her for a hefty €300,000, and having trained her to two victories in her short racing career I wish her and her owners the very best of luck.
As for her run in last week’s Group 3 Prix Miesque at Maisons-Laffitte, what some observers perhaps didn’t pick up on in the aftermath is the fact she hit a patch of false ground two furlongs from home and lost her action.
Considering what happened her rider Mickael Barzalona said she ran a fantastic race to be beaten just two lengths after slipping at a crucial stage.
With that in mind, she’s got plenty of great days ahead of her in France.