McCoy set to showcase Jezki's Champion class
JEZKI, Jessica Harrington's exciting Champion Hurdle prospect, faces a straightforward task on his reappearance under AP McCoy in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal this afternoon.
The remarkable 4,000-winner chasing Antrim-born icon (below) will be partnering the classy triple Grade One victor for a first time in the Grade Two.
When the five-year-old made his debut in JP McManus' silks at Cheltenham in March, McCoy opted instead for My Tent Or Yours, which just lost out in a memorable Supreme Novices' Hurdle battle with Champagne Fever. Jezki was a commendable third, drawing 15 lengths clear of fellow subsequent Grade One victor Un Atout.
On his final outing at Punchestown, he confirmed his immense promise by turning the tables on Champagne Fever in sensational style in the hands of Barry Geraghty.
As of now, he is 10/1 for glory in the two-mile showpiece next March. Notwithstanding bookmakers' tendency to promote a bit of hysteria by slashing prices for no good reason at this time of year, his odds will hardly be any shorter after today's €50,000 feature.
A stone-and-a-half clear of Gordon Elliott's Davy Russell-ridden Fred Winter hero Flaxen Flare on ratings, he should prove far superior to each of his four rivals.
Granted, Paul Nicholls' decision to run Caid Du Berlais under Ruby Walsh is of note, but the Fred Winter runner-up shouldn't be nearly good enough to trouble such a talented individual as Jezki.
Walsh could take the Robinson Services Handicap Chase on Tony Martin's unexposed chaser Undertheboardwalk, but it is the reigning title-holder Russell who appeals as having the best book of rides at the Maze venue.
Possibly the most intriguing of his five mounts is Colm Murphy's Rye Martini in what is a cracking Porter & Co Beginners' Chase. Mullaghanoe River, Seefood, Teelin Star and Golden Bullet are all serious rivals to Rye Martini.
Still, Gigginstown's six-year-old is fancied as the best long-term prospect, having impressed when readily obliging for a second time over flights at Punchestown in April. Russell also gets the nod to take the Eventsec Maiden Hurdle on Murphy's Express Du Berlais.
A runaway point-to-point winner in April, the Saints Des Saints four-year-old is clearly a useful prospect, with Jim Dreaper's Sizing Coal another to monitor in the market.
Murphy won with Gigginstown's €325,000 2010 purchase Empire Of Dirt at Punchestown on Wednesday, and Dreaper's March 'point' winner carries an even more eye-watering price tag, having been acquired by Alan Potts for €340,000 in 2011.
Elliott's Not For Changing is another of Russell's bookings to note in the Allianz Handicap Hurdle, while his fellow Cork native Jane Mangan could carry the ubiquitous maroon and white silks to victory on the Co Meath handler's runaway February 'point' scorer Speed Demon in the bumper.
At Dundalk, meanwhile, Ger Lyons and Gary Carroll can plunder the Listed race with Lily's Angel, while champion apprentice-elect Connor King has his first ride for John Oxx on Palace Of Winds in the concluding maiden. A consistent filly, his partner might just deliver.