Tony McCoy gets low in the saddle as Jezki clears a flight of hurdlesPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Jezki just does enough
to land Hatton's Grace
Report: Fairyhouse, Sunday
Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle (Grade 1) 4yo+, 2m4f
IF TONY McCOY was hoping to see Champion Hurdle class from Jezki on Sunday he was likely left disappointed, as the five-year-old was unspectacular in a narrow-margin victory over Zaidpour.
In beating last year's winner of the race the win was not without merit, especially considering Jezki was untidy at the final two hurdles, but bookies almost unanimously left him unchanged at 8-1 or 9-1 for the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
The two-mile hurdle championship is already shaping up to be a showstopping race, with bright new talents The New One, My Tent Or Yours and Our Conor joining Hurricane Fly ahead of Jezki in the market.
McCoy will have the option to ride My Tent Or Yours at Cheltenham and after steering that horse to a wide-margin victory in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth on Saturday it would be expected that the British-trained horse remains foremost in his Champion Hurdle thinking.
McCoy settled in the rear on the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki, who was making his second appearance of the season. Willie Mullins' Diakali cut out the pace and established a big lead down the back straight.
By the turn for home the five-runner field had come together again and Jezki looked poised to breeze by Diakali, but his momentum was shot after an awkward leap at the second-last and a clumsy landing at the final hurdle.
Zaidpour attempted to challenge the favourite and Diakali stayed on admirably after his early exuberance, but Jezki had enough about him to grab victory, raising hopes that with a slicker round of jumping he might still prove more than a match for the best around.
“He moved up into it easily and he was just looking around going to the last. He made a nonsense of that hurdle but I don't even think he had to hit him, he might have given him a slap down the shoulder but that was the height of it. AP was very pleased with him," said Harrington.
“It proved that he got two and a half miles and that's the main thing. He's probably better over a fast-run two miles and that is what he will get from now on.
“He's a lot more relaxed this year. You could see that today, he dropped that bridle and was nice and relaxed the whole way through the race and that helped him to get the trip. He definitely is better going left-handed. With regard to Christmas, we will just see what the fall-out is from today and we will take it one step at a time.”