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Thursday 8 December 2016

Ivan set to triumph

Impressive Galway Festival winner can take honours in the Ebor Handicap

Ivan Grozny, ridden by Ruby Walsh, on the way to winning the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary last July. Photo: Caroline Norris
Ivan Grozny, ridden by Ruby Walsh, on the way to winning the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary last July. Photo: Caroline Norris

Irish runners have fared out quite well this week and the meeting will draw to a close tomorrow with the Ebor Handicap the feature race and it is Willie Mullins that looks likely to be responsible for the favourite, Ivan Grozny.

The Galway Festival winner was ridden by Declan McDonogh last month and the Meath native retains the ride on the six-year-old who he was full of praise for last month.

"He's as good a staying horse as I've ridden, and he covers some ground. You wouldn't know how far he could go," said the former champion jockey.

From odds of around about 10/1 after the Galway triumph Ivan Grozny is now just 5/1 to land the spoils of the prestigious handicap and he looks to have real solid claims.

This marks a massive step up from the 14-length victory at Galway but he looks like a typical improver on the flat for Willie Mullins and as McDonogh suggested, it is hard to know just how far this horse can go on the flat but taking in the Ebor looks to be the next step on the road.

With some big names lining up at the Curragh, it is interesting to see Seamie Heffernan in York tomorrow and in the Gimcrack Stakes he will ride Intelligence Cross for Aidan O'Brien but he may just have too much on his plate with Blue Point looking a difficult proposition to beat for Charlie Appleby and William Buick.

Improve

Blue Point was beaten as odds on favourite last time behind Mehmas but he'll improve from that experience and should be back in the winner's enclosure.

Meanwhile, Irish Oaks winner Seventh Heaven followed up her Classic success at the Curragh by adding the Darley Yorkshire Oaks yesterday at the expense of stable companion Found.

Jockey Seamie Heffernan switched to Found after winning the Irish Oaks on Seventh Heaven but Colm O'Donoghue proved an able deputy as he guided the daughter of Galileo to a two and three parts of a length triumph.

Aidan O'Brien made no secret that the Breeders' Cup heroine, Found, may take a run and that looked exactly to be the case but the trainer was naturally thrilled with the outcome nonetheless.

"Colm gave her a beautiful ride," said the master of Ballydoyle.

"She came forward lovely from the Curragh, she had a very good run there, and we thought coming here that the track, the trip and the ground should suit her and you'd be delighted with that.

"The lads will decide what they want to do next but she has a lot of options," the trainer said of future plans for Seventh Heaven.

"She handles fast ground very well and has plenty of class. I'd say she is going to make a real four-year-old. She has loads of class.

"Seamus looked after Found when she got tired and they are two smashing fillies."

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