Hat-trick for Jezki as Champagne Fever beaten
Report: Fairyhouse, Sunday
Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (Grade 1), 2m, 4yo+
JEZKI stretched his winning record over hurdles to three as he beat last season's outstanding bumper performer Champagne Fever in what looked a top-notch renewal of this Grade 1 contest.
Champagne Fever was sent off the 11-8 favourite to give Willie Mullins a fourth win in the last five runnings of this race but his colours were lowered for the first time since his bumper debut.
The favourite was sent into an immediate lead by Ruby Walsh and he remained at the head of affairs until Jezki leapt to the front at the final flight before staying on well under Barry Geraghty to win by a length and a half at odds of 9-4.
Jezki was following two wins at Naas and his success here resulted in him being cut to 8-1 joint-favourite (from 16) with the sponsors William Hill for the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
That race is now very much on the agenda for the winner according to his trainer Jessica Harrington who said: "He clattered the first and got a bit of a fright and jumped a bit high going up the hill but when it mattered he jumped well.
"He could run at Christmas at Leopardstown now and the Supreme Novices' is the plan with two or three runs in between."
Bookmakers were unsure what to make of the effort from Champagne Fever who nearly got caught by his stablemate Zuzka on the run in.
His odds range from 12-1 to 33-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, while he is as short as 14-1 for the RSA Chase and 10-1 for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle.
Mullins said: "We will probably up him in trip now as he was going as fast as he could from three out."