Swan the toast as Grinkov lands gamble

Grinkov became only the fourth favourite in 25 years to capture Ireland's richest handicap over timber when he won the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Grinkov became only the fourth favourite in 25 years to capture Ireland's richest handicap over timber when he won the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The 11-2 shot went to the front at the last bend and was always holding all the aces on the run to the line.

Grinkov was ridden by Charlie Swan, who won the race for the first time after competing every year since 1987.

"I was always travelling well on Grinkov, getting a great run through the race and I had plenty of horse underneath me when I went for home," said Swan.

"After I won on him at Galway last August, I suggested he might be an ideal type for this race because he has pace and stays as well."

Ante-post favourite in the run-up to the race, Grinkov was supported again from 7-1 to 11-2 on the course.

Trainer Pat Hughes said: "He went up 9lb for his run here at Christmas when dividing Ned Kelly and Bust Out. Then when Bust Out won the first race here today it was a help to our confidence.

"We will have a look at the Tote Gold Trophy, for which he gets a 4lb penalty, and we would be thinking as well in terms of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham as well."

Ricardo ran his usual good race for Brian Nolan's small stable, emerging from the pack as the only danger to Grinkov running to the final flight with the lone English raider Rooster Booster also getting into contention without ever looking a likely winner.

Grinkov had three lengths to spare over 16-1 chance Ricardo at the finish, with Rooster Booster a neck away in third and Masalarian six lengths adrift of Richard Johnson's mount in fourth.

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