Thursday 14 December 2017

Grozny proves star of Mullins treble

Trainer Willie Mullins. Picture credit: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Picture credit: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

It was business as usual for Willie Mullins at Tipperary yesterday as the Closutton maestro combined with Ruby Walsh to land a treble, headlined by Ivan Grozny's comfortable all-the-way success in the Istabraq Hurdle.

The six-year-old (2/5) was never seriously challenged as he had it all his own way up front under a positive ride from Walsh.

Ivan Grozny was never out of cruise control as he sauntered home by four and three-quarter lengths from Bentelimar. Nicky Henderson's Hargam did not threaten and was a well-beaten third on his first start for 201 days.

Walsh explained: "He just ran away with me and kept going. He was a bit fresher today and hasn't run in a while. The ground gets softer and it gets harder as you're trying to go slower, but he jumped super and had enough in the tank to keep going."

Mullins and Walsh completed a quick double half-an-hour later when Penhill justified even-money favouritisim in the Joe Mac Hurdle.

There were just five runners but Bel Sas and Bitview Colin both came down. Timiyan was soon left trailing as Penhill kicked on before the second-last. Balzac Turgot kept on gamely but was four and a half lengths back in second.

"He is a fair horse but doesn't jump the EasyFix hurdles quite as well as he does the timber hurdles.," said Walsh. "He was quite deliberate over the first two but got better as he went on."

The champion trainer and jockey went on to complete their 6/1 hat-trick as Westerner Lady extended her unbeaten run to six in the Grade 3 Like A Butterfly Novice Chase.

Successful on her debut over fences at Kilbeggan in August, the daughter of Westerner followed-up on her next start at Listowel and raced in a share of the lead with Sandymount Duke for the early part of the two-and-a-half mile contest.

The 2/1 second favourite took a definite advantage after five out and kept up the gallop in the straight to record a 15-length success from Deans Road.

World Hurdle runner-up Alpha Des Obeaux was sent off the well-backed 9/10 favourite (from 11/8) but he finished a disappointing last under Bryan Cooper for Mouse Morris, while Sandymount Duke faded to finish fourth.

Joseph O'Brien, meanwhile, continued his rich vein of form by sending out Cradle Mountain (7/1) to claim the two-mile handicap hurdle under Jody McGarvey.


Earlier, Jet Setting bounced back to form by easily outclassing the opposition in the Coolmore House Of Champions Concorde Stakes.

Enjoying the testing conditions, Jet Setting pulled well clear of her rivals to register her first success since she took Minding's scalp in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Shane Foley had the Adrian Keatley-trained filly right up with the pace, set by Creggs Pipes, early on before upping the tempo just before the field turned for home.

The well-supported 7/4 favourite asserted in a matter of strides and quickly had the opposition toiling in her wake.

Winning for the first time since being sold to China Horse Club International Ltd for £1.3m in June, the daughter of Fast Company was eased down in the last few strides but still had six and a half lengths to spare. Joailliere stayed on well from the rear to claim second.

Keatley reasoned: "There was a bit of pressure on. She just loves the ground - there's just no getting away from it - and also loves that trip (extended seven furlongs), which is perfect for her.

"We'll sit down with the owners at Newmarket (sales) next week and make a plan but wherever it is bottomless she'll turn up between now and the end of the year.

"There's a couple of Group Threes in France and a couple of Listed races, but if it turned up bottomless on Champions Day at Ascot she could run in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes."

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