sport

Grozny eyeing Spring glory

Ivan Grozny steps up to Grade One level for the Gala Retail Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The four-year-old was placed at Group Three level on the Flat in France and was a hot favourite to make a winning start for champion trainer Willie Mullins at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting.

While he came up narrowly short against Aidan O'Brien's Plinth, who reopposes this weekend, Ivan Grozny showed the benefit of that initial experience as he blitzed his opponents at Naas in January.

Mullins feels the conditions at the Foxrock track this weekend will be against a horse blessed with Flat speed, but he is keen to teach his charge more about the jumping game ahead of his likely trip to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

"The ground probably won't suit him - he did win on it at Naas, but he would prefer better ground," said the Closutton maestro.

"He needs the experience and while he disappointed me at Christmas time, he was good at Naas and he is a horse that shows me plenty at home."

Ivan Grozny and Plinth are among six facing the starter for the Grade One that opens the stellar card.

In opposition are Dessie Hughes' Guitar Pete, Charles O'Brien's Henry Higgins, John McConnell's Orgilgo Bay and Tiger Roll from Gordon Elliott's yard.