Ivan Grozny goes for Istabraq prize

Ivan Grozny and Hargam lock horns in the the Grade Two Istabraq Hurdle at Tipperary on Sunday.

Ivan Grozny: Goes for the Istabraq Hurdle

The Nicky Henderson-trained Hargam is rated just 2lb higher than his aforementioned rival, and there is likely to be little between them on the racecourse.

A top-class juvenile hurdler in 2014-15, Hargam took on the big boys last season and was a good third in the International Hurdle and the Christmas Hurdle, before finishing 10th in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

He is owned by JP McManus, whose racing manager Frank Berry said: "Nicky thinks Hargam's in good form. He's very happy with him and we're hopeful for a good run.

"It looks a grand race to start him back in and we are looking forward to it."

Ivan Grozny, who is a dual Grade Three winner over timber, was off the track for nearly two years before returning to action at Leopardstown in January.

He was a solid eighth in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, before winning a valuable handicap on his next start at Aintree.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding recorded an easy 11-length success over the course and distance on his penultimate start, and followed up with an equally comfortable success on his next outing on the Flat at Galway.

He had been a leading contender for the Ebor, but was ruled out through lameness on the eve of the big York handicap.

Ruby Walsh rides the Graham Wylie-owned six-year-old, while Paul Townend will be aboard the other Mullins runner, Thomas Hobson, in the Rich Ricci colours.

He won a Grade Two at Warwick in January, but disappointed in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham before returning to form to finish third in the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

The 143-rated performer makes his seasonal reappearance now and looks to have solid claims.

McManus is also represented by last year's winner Plinth.

His trainer Joseph O'Brien said: "He won the race last year. It was good that he got his head in front again the last day at Kilbeggan. He is in good form at home and I'm hoping that he can run well."

Berry added: "He's in good form, too, but probably with his penalty and everything he may have plenty to do."

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