Monday 11 December 2017

Jezki battles to Hatton's Grace Hurdle triumph

Tony McCoy was onboard Jezki
Tony McCoy was onboard Jezki

Jezki threw his hat into the ring for this season's Champion Hurdle with a solid if unspectacular victory in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Jessica Harrington's stable star is one of a host of smart youngsters looking to topple dual Champion Hurdle hero and 17-times Grade One winner Hurricane Fly this season, with My Tent Or Yours, like Jezki owned by JP McManus, shooting to prominence with a dominant display in Saturday's Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Jezki stepped up to two and a half miles for the first time for this assignment and was 4-6 favourite in the hands of Tony McCoy.

The five-year-old travelled through the contest like much the best horse in the race, but the front-running Diakali did not fade tamely and last year's winner Zaidpour was also staying on doggedly on the run to the final flight.

A small mistake from Jezki briefly gave his rivals hope, but once shaken up the market leader asserted his authority, scoring by a length and three-quarters from Zaidpour.

McCoy, on board My Tent Or Yours at Newcastle, was unsurprisingly none too keen on comparing the pair, but once again confirmed his opinion that both had some way to go before they could think about getting the better of Hurricane Fly.

"It was a good enough performance. He's done it pretty well and was very professional," said the champion jockey.

"He's a bit like the horse that won yesterday (My Tent Or Yours). They are good novices from last year, but they have to improve to beat Hurricane Fly."

Harrington said: "The horse going off miles in front is not good for the nerves, but he made the ground up easy.

"He proved he gets two and a half miles and that's the main thing, but he'd be better over a fast run two miles.

"He's definitely better going left-handed and we'll keep him at two miles.

"The owner has got My Tent Or Yours as well, so I suppose it will all depend what they want to do.

"We'll let the dust settle before we make a plan."

Paddy Power left Jezki unchanged at 8-1 for the Champion Hurdle behind The New One, My Tent Or Yours, Our Conor and Hurricane Fly.

The supplemented The Tullow Tank played a starring role in the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.

Philip Fenton's 5-1 shot stuck on gamely to edge out the front-running Renneti by half length to give Danny Mullins another Grade One victory..

Paddy Power cut The Tullow Tank to 12-1 from 16-1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and also introduced him into the Supreme Novices' Hurdle betting at 16-1.

Fenton, however, is not sure about a trip to Prestbury Park.

"He looked to be a good horse and he proved it today. He had a battle on his hands from the second last and he saw it out well," said the trainer.

"We'll take it one step at a time. Going right-handed is a big plus to him, as he does go a little right.

"He could go left-handed back at Leopardstown, but it will be probably be January before he runs again.

"I don't know about Cheltenham. First of all it's left-handed and the ground will have a big bearing as well.

"If he goes left-handed in Leopardstown, we'll have a fair idea after that."

Fenton went on to complete a double as 9-4 shot Value At Risk made all the running in the concluding bumper.

"He could be a very good horse and we'll just stick to bumpers with him this season," said Fenton.

"I think Cheltenham would be on his agenda - that could be a way to ruin him!"

Gordon Elliott's pride and joy Don Cossack (13-8 favourite) finally grabbed the big prize he has always promised with a determined victory over Galway Plate hero Carlingford Lough in the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase.

Davy Russell looked booked for third at the second last on the imposing six-year-old but he stuck on gamely.

Elliott said: "I'm delighted he's won. Punchestown knocked the edge off him. He struggled a bit from five out (today).

"He's a smashing big horse. I've been very lucky Gigginstown have given me a lot of nice horses to train, so it's great to win a Grade One for them.

"He won't go anywhere over Christmas. He might go to Leopardstown at the end of January.

"I'm not sure he's an out and out three-miler myself."

While out of luck in the two Grade One races in which he was represented, champion trainer Willie Mullins did not leave empty handed, with Ruby Walsh steering 3-10 favourite Analifet to a hugely impressive victory in the Bar One Racing Juvenile 3-Y-O Hurdle.

The filly is 10-1 favourite with Paddy Power for the Triumph Hurdle.

Mullins said: "It was a good performance and I'm delighted with her. It was a quick time on quick ground and she was able to handle that. I think soft ground won't be any worry to her either.

"I'll probably look at Leopardstown at Christmas with her."

She's Got Grit was a 7-1 winner of the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Mares Handicap Chase, while bold-jumping grey Thelobstercatcher (7-1) claimed the Bar One Racing Porterstown Handicap Chase.

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