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Calipto backers could gain most from Ivan Grozny Triumph plunge

| 24.01.2014

After making short work of a maiden hurdle at Naas, Willie Mullins’ four-year-old Ivan Grozny’s odds for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival took a monumental tumble and the Wylie family-owned gelding currently heads a tight market at 8/1.

Ivan Grozny was as big as 25/1 for the opening race on Cheltenham Friday and widely available at 16s immediately after beating Dessie Hughes’ Indian Icon by 12 lengths at the County Kildare track, but a flurry of money in the days following forced the bookies to take drastic action.

Considering Mullins’ escapades around Prestbury Park in March 2013, when he finished as top trainer with five wins including Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle (again) and Quevega in the Mares’ Hurdle (again), it’s easy to see why the layers are taking no chances with the Closutton man over the small obstacles.

Ivan Grozny has form in the book on the flat in France, as have three of the last five winners of this race and Mullins has proved in the past that he can ready a horse for the Triumph, having taken it with Scolardy back in 2002.

However, since Charlie Swan booted home over 11 years ago, Mullins’ horses have hardly even troubled the placings in this event.

Of his 11 runners in the race over the last decade, 14/1 outsider Mourad’s third-place finish behind Zaynar in 2009 rates the best result.

Furthermore, the value of Ivan Grozny’s Naas win doesn’t bear close scrutiny, as the second and third home were also flattened by fellow Mullins inmate Adriana Des Mottes, who is a possible Triumph runner but hasn’t warranted a price as yet.

Ivan Grozny’s only previous hurdle run came over Christmas at Leopardstown, where he was headed on the line when evens favourite by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Plinth.

That horse looks massively overpriced at 14/1 in relation to the Mullins inmate and is clearly better value at this stage following the big plunge, but punters who fancy a nibble on Paul Nicholls’ Calipto could gain the most from the fluxive nature of this market.

Nicholls has taken the Triumph twice in the last six years and looked to have another live contender when Calipto eased to victory at Newbury in November on his first start over hurdles in England, after showing promise earlier this season when placing second out of 13 at Auteuil.

He’s slipping under the radar as the 10/1 second favourite, but that price would disappear without trace if Daryl Jacob steers him to victory at Taunton in his next scheduled outing at the end of January, so get on the Nicholls charge at double figures while you can.

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