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, 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 as much the best horse in the race, but the front-running Diakali refused to fade tamely, while Zaidpour, last year’s winner, 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 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.
“The owner has got My Tent Or Yours as well, so I suppose it will all depend on what they want to do. We’ll let the dust settle before we make a plan.”