Thursday 14 December 2017

WATCH - Former Champion Hurdle hero Jezki makes winning return after 632-day absence

Jessica Harrington
Jessica Harrington Newsdesk Newsdesk

Jezki stylishly overcame an absence of 632 days with a cosy success over hurdles at Navan.

The 2014 Champion Hurdle hero was last seen beating Hurricane Fly over three miles at Punchestown in April 2015, but showed he maintains loads of ability.

The drop to two miles proved no inconvenience in the Race Displays Event Signage Hurdle as he travelled well off the pace set by Alisier D'Irlande.

The complexion of the race changed two out when the main players took closer order.

Barry Geraghty brought Jessica Harrington's nine-year-old to challenge, but Tombstone and Renneti looked big dangers.

Jezki (11-8 favourite) jumped into lead at the final flight and ran on strongly to the line to score in tidy fashion by a length and three-quarters from Renneti. Tombstone was another length away in third place.

Harrington's inmate received quotes of around 6-1 for the Stayers' Hurdle, while he is available at 25-1 for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Harrington said: "Barry said he took a blow going down the back and just blew up a bit after the second-last.

"He jumped super and you couldn't ask for any more.

"We had him kind of ready at Christmas and then he had a setback.

"Every time you go you are worried that you haven't done enough or too much or he hasn't got his spark still.

"He was very settled there and was really, really good.

"I'll have to talk with JP (McManus, owner) and Frank (Berry, owner's racing manager) to see where we go next.

"Most likely he will need another run so he could go for the Red Mills (Gowran).

"I think he gets in there with no penalties. I think on soft ground we would be better going two miles and not bottoming him out.

"He could still do a job over two miles but we know he stays three, so we have options.

"As long as he's sound in the morning that's the main thing."

Geraghty, Harrington and owner McManus were completing a quick double after the victory of Thirsty Work (7-4 favourite) in the 2017 Navan Membership Rated Novice Hurdle.

Harrington said: "He'll make a smashing chaser, and will get further, which is great.

"There is a novice-rated hurdle up to 130 coming up, which would be ideal for him.

"We'll take little steps for the moment. The three-mile novice handicap later on at Fairyhouse could be a race for him."

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