Amy Murphy’s stable star Kalashnikov may launch his winter campaign next weekend, with a shot at the Virgin Bet Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase.
A trip to Aintree would see the six-year-old return to the scene of his last victory, a one-and-a-quarter-length triumph over Warren Greatrex’s La Bague Au Roi in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase in April.
The performance was the gelding’s third win of a season that saw him out of the first two only once, when he unseated Jack Quinlan in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.
“He’s in very good form and hopefully he will run in the Old Roan,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s long-term target for the seven-times winner is a so-far elusive victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
Denied by just a neck when second to Summerville Boy in the 2018 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Kalashnikov’s return to Prestbury Park was the luckless run that saw him unseat Quinlan.
“The Ryanair is the dream,” said Murphy, referring to the Grade One chase over an extended two and a half miles.
“But obviously we’re a long way off that at this point.”
Murphy does not expect Mercian Prince to return to action quite so soon, with the gelding undergoing a minor wind operation recently.
“Mercian Prince is well, we’ve just tweaked his wind,” she said.
“He’s a good month off a run, we’ve not got any plans at the minute as he’s done no fast work yet.”
The eight-year-old handicapper contested a handful of graded chases last season, picking up victories in slightly less prolific company at both Kempton and Plumpton.
Stablemate Mercian King has been retired, having sustained a career-ending injury.
The eight-year-old was the first horse to be owned by the Thoroughbred Club, an arm of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association aimed at young bloodstock aficionados.
“He’s fine, he’s just picked up an injury,” said Murphy.
“He’ll have three months of rehab and then we’ll decide what to do with him and where he’ll go.”