Horses To Follow » Ivan Grozny

Ivan Grozny

Ivan Grozny was good in winning the Grade 3 juvenile hurdle at Fairyhouse on Monday. He was a little keen through the early stages of the race for Paul Townend, even in his first-time hood and his chifney bit, and his slick hurdling meant that his rider had to continually take him back, but he always appeared to be doing a little more than his rider wanted him to. He tracked leader Florishwells D’Ete into the home straight but, when the mare jumped to her right over the second last, Townend’s hand was effectively forced, he really had to allow Ivan Grozny take the gap on the rail. He jumped the final flight well and looked home for all money, but he seemed to tire or idle close home as Barry Geraghty conjured a run out of Kitten Rock, and Ivan Grozny just lasted home. Literally, if the winning line had been one or two strides further away, Kitten Rock would probably have got up.

But this was more like it from Willie Mullins’ horse. High in the betting for the Triumph Hurdle after he won impressively at Naas in January, he could only finish fourth behind Guitar Pete and Tiger Roll in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, and, re-routed from the Triumph Hurdle to the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham, he disappointed there. However, he got too keen among horses in the Fred Winter, and the Spring Juvenile Hurdle was a much better race than was appreciated by most at the time, with Tiger Roll winning the Triumph Hurdle and Guitar Pete finishing third, before going on to win the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at Aintree.

Even allowing for that, however, Monday’s performance by Ivan Grozny was probably a step up on anything that he had done before. He was still just a little keener than ideal but, if he learns to settle better in his hood, he could progress again next year. Two-mile handicap hurdles should suit him well next season, the fast pace in those races should help him settle and his slick jumping should be a significant asset in those types of races. He will be interesting in all of those big two-mile handicap hurdles next season, the Greatwood Hurdle, the Ladbroke Hurdle, the Boylesports Hurdle, the Betfair Hurdle, the County Hurdle. In the meantime, he would be of interest in the Galway Hurdle if he was aimed at that race, and he could prove to be better than a handicapper next season.

21st April 2014