Jezki can confirm his top-class credentials
A YEAR after announcing his enormous potential by seeing off Champagne Fever in an epic Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, Jezki will bid to confirm himself a serious championship contender on his return to Fairyhouse under AP McCoy tomorrow.
Purchased by JP McManus in the new year, Jessica Harrington's exciting five-year-old's score in Grade One races against the dual Cheltenham Festival-winning grey read 2-1 after his runaway Punchestown triumph in April.
Lamentably, he swerved a mouth-watering showdown with Hurricane Fly two weeks ago, but his presence in tomorrow's €80,000 Hatton's Grace Hurdle lends substance to the marquee event.
In recent years, the climax to the Co Meath venue's two-day gala has been plagued by bad weather and small fields, but it looks as though there will be an upturn on both fronts, with the word 'good' likely to feature in the going description for the first time in the 19-year history of the Bar One Racing-sponsored Hatton's Grace.
With just five runners, in numerical terms the two-miler is the most poorly contested of the three Grade One races on the card, but there is no shortage of depth to the line-up – particularly so if both of Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud representatives, Dedigout and Rule The World, run.
Given that Dedigout was supplemented at a cost of €8,000 and that Rule The World should relish the conditions, the suspicion is that they will.
As ever, O'Leary's firm has two declared in both the Royal Bond and the Drinmore Novice Chase, contests that promise to be hugely informative if the fields hold up.
The ubiquitous maroon and white silks are also set to be doubly represented in the juvenile hurdle, a Grade Three that unearthed none other than Our Conor in 2012.
12.10 Grade Three Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle 2m
Davy Russell probably couldn't do the weight on Analifet, but her bloodless win over Noble Inn, which beat the re-opposing Clarcam previously, is the best form on offer.
Navan winner Gerdago is an improver, with Tony Martin's French import Elishpour interesting on his debut having been placed in Listed company on the Flat.
Verdict: Analifet will take plenty of stopping.
12.40 Grade One Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle 2m
Minella Foru, Very Wood, Alonso and The Tullow Tank may be the ones to watch. Very Wood lost little in a narrow Navan defeat to Minella Foru when forced to make the running. He appeals as the better long-term prospect.
Of course, that isn't to say that Minella Foru won't have his measure again today. He is unbeaten in a point-to-point and two hurdles, and appears to have bundles of gears.
Alonso is not easy to assess, but is Ruby Walsh's chosen mount. He thrashed a subsequent winner on his only start for Willie Mullins at Wexford, so he clearly has potential.
The Tullow Tank's overall profile is possibly the most solid. His form last term was of a high standard, and he also had a subsequent winner well back when coming from an impossible position to sprint home at Naas.
Verdict: The Tullow Tank has the qualities required to deny a classy field.
1.10 Grade One Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase 2m 4f
Art Of Logistics has shown the most improvement for switching to fences. Flawless on both starts, his form isn't spectacular, but he will be better for this step up in trip.
Road To Riches also looks more suited to fences, but Davy Russell prefers the frustrating Don Cossack, which was found wanting off the bridle last time. However, his conqueror Morning Assembly is a good horse and the drop in trip might help.
Ideally, Sizing Rio would prefer more cut, though Carlingford Lough continues to progress and will enjoy the ground. Still, this is quite a big step up for him again.
Verdict: The unexposed Art Of Logistics appeals as nap material.
1.45 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares' Handicap Chase 2m 4f
Last year's winner Avondhu Lady and Clonmel scorer Ballinahow Lady have more on their plates here, while Victrix Gale might not be suited by the drying ground. Liz's D'Estruval is interesting. She wasn't far away when crashing two-out behind Ballinahow Lady at Clonmel, yet is upwards of 6lb better off now.
Verdict: The unexposed Liz's D'Estruval is worth a speculative venture.
2.15 Grade One Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle 2m 4f
Jezki had to do things the hard way on his Down Royal reappearance. He will be sharper now, and there should be no shortage of pace here with Diakali present.
A top-class novice, Jezki will relish the forecast decent ground and is bred to get the two-and-a-half-mile trip.
Of the Gigginstown Stud duo, Rule The World will possibly be more suited by the conditions, though Dedigout is a classy operator that remains unexposed. Rule The World was second to The New One at Cheltenham in March.
Diakali's running style will leave him vulnerable in a race of this stature, so it is maybe no surprise that Ruby Walsh opted for Zaidpour instead. Twice a Grade One winner here, Zaidpour might prefer more ease underfoot.
Verdict: Jezki should be winning this if he is to live up to his billing.
2.50 Bar One Racing Porterstown Handicap Chase 3m 5f
Sword Fish is 15lb higher than when ploughing through testing going to land the Cork Grand National last time. He will appreciate the extreme distance here, with the fifth home, Another Palm, likely to prefer this better surface.
Miss Pepperpot, conqueror of Carlingford Lough in May, stays well on good ground.
Verdict: Miss Pepperpot is handicapped to go well at a price.
3.20 Uniflu Supporting Meath GAA INH Flat Race 2m
The market will be the best guide as to which of the many interesting newcomers are fancied, but Philip Fenton's Value At Risk's second to Very Wood at Punchestown in May is the pick of the form on offer.
Verdict: Value At Risk's track form is the best we have to go on.