Dynamite Dollars gave 5lb and a beating to Kalashnikov in the 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
Providing Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden with another big-race success barely 24 hours on from their King George triumph with Clan Des Obeaux, Dynamite Dollars propelled himself to the head of the betting for the Arkle Trophy in the process.
Kalashnikov had been unbeaten in his first two races over fences, but from an early stage things were not going to plan.
The 4-6 favourite was losing ground at his fences and jumping big as Dynamite Dollars fenced efficiently behind Highway One O One, with usual front-runner Maria’s Benefit settled behind.
Due to fog the runners were completely out of sight down the back straight and when they emerged from the gloom Maria’s Benefit had parted company with Ciaran Gethings and Dynamite Dollars was in front.
While Kalshnikov briefly threatened early in the straight, he was always being held by the 3-1 winner and went down by a length and a quarter.
Nicholls said: “He jumped really well. He is improving and learned a lot at Cheltenham when he was second that day. He was good at Sandown and has improved again.
“He stays and jumps and is a proper two-miler. I thought the track would be a bit sharp round here. He did that really tidy, though – giving 5lb to Kalashnikov is no mean feat and that is a really good performance.”
He went on: “He will be aimed for the Arkle and will have one run somewhere beforehand. He got beat by Lalor at Cheltenham, but we probably didn’t ride him how we could have done.
“I think at Cheltenham, if we knew what we know now and had that experience, we would have probably just sailed on.
“To win good two-mile races and go a good end-to-end gallop, they have got to stay nearly two and a half miles. He was good at Sandown the other day and jumped very well on ground that was soft enough.
“He is much better on this better ground or spring ground.”
On immediate plans for the winner, Nicholls said: “We will have some fun with him now.
“The Kingmaker is one race, unless it is desperate ground. There is Doncaster at the end of January (Lightning Novices’ Chase), but if he wanted a break now Doncaster is soon enough.
“He has had four runs over fences now and we could just go straight to Cheltenham.”
Amy Murphy said of Kalashnikov: “There is not a lot I can say, as I couldn’t see it. He has run very well – his best half-furlong was from the back of the last.
“Jack (Quinlan) said he took a mile to warm up today, which is not like him. He has run a good race and is home safe and sound. It (track being sharp enough) was always going to be, but we had to come here.
“I’m delighted with the way he has run, but those big galloping tracks suit him better.
“He will get an entry in both (JLT Novices’ Chase and Arkle). Up until now he has shown he has plenty of speed for two (miles), but we will keep plenty of options open.”
Betfair cut Dynamite Dollars to 6-1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March, with Kalashnikov at 5-1. Paddy Power make the pair the 5-1 joint-favourites.