Jezki jumps the last in the Champion Hurdle in front of My Tent Or YoursPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Jezki fends off Tent to grab Champion Hurdle
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Tuesday
Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) 2m½f, 4yo+ Old Course
Jezki was well placed near the lead throughout by jockey Barry Geraghty, riding the Jessica Harrington-trained runner with Tony McCoy preferring My Tent Or Yours, and it might have proved to be one of the vital aspects of his victory when the race changed down the back straight.
Captain Cee Bee led the field over the third hurdle with Hurricane Fly sitting on his hind quarters and Our Conor close up. However, having taken the hurdle at speed, Our Conor crashed into the turf and stopped The New One to almost a walk.
After being treated on the course by vets, the decision was taken to put down Our Conor due to back injuries he sustained in the fall.
Up front, Hurricane Fly and My Tent Or Yours were catching the eye behind Captain Cee Bee as they tanked along under their riders while Jezki, wearing a hood for the first time, was settled for Barry Geraghty.
Sam Twiston-Davies had not panicked on The New One and let him regain his stride, but he was always chasing the leaders as the pace picked up running down the hill.
Ruby Walsh was nudging Hurricane Fly approaching the penultimate flight but he was unable to get away from anyone apart from the veteran Captain Cee Bee and he was in trouble as Jezki swung into the straight on the bridle and took the lead.
My Tent Or Yours looked ready to go past Jezki in front but, like in last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the Cheltenham hill was not kind to My Tent Or Yours and he could not get past Jezki.
Harrington said: "It's fantastic and a great to be in this position. He's a great favourite of mine and Barry has a great record on him."
Jessica Harrington (left), Barry Geraghty and owner JP McManus (far right) crowd around Jezki after his win in the Champion Hurdle on TuesdayPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Nicky Henderson, trainer of My Tent Or Yours, said: "The other horse beat us fair and square but for the future we've got to learn to drop the bridle a bit."
Charging home up the hill was The New One, who took third, beaten a neck and two and a half lengths by the winner. Hurricane Fly was fourth.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of The New One, said: "It was just very hard luck. I was very proud of Sam, having been dealt a bad hand he got him back in the race superbly. If he's okay we'll certainly go to Aintree."