Harrington star to kick off Stayers’ Hurdle preparation at Navan
Jessica Harrington has revealed that her 2013 Champion Hurdle winner Jezki will make his eagerly anticipated comeback at Navan on Saturday, January 21 as part of his preparation for the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Owned by JP McManus, Jezki has not graced a racecourse since inflicting defeat upon Hurricane Fly in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in 2015.
The nine-year-old had been set to return from a spell on the sidelines with tendon trouble in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last month, but Harrington was forced to bypass that engagement after her stable star suffered a minor setback.
The trainer said: “It was disappointing he had to miss Christmas, but he did a piece of work last week and we’re very happy with him now.
"He's going to have his first start back in a winners' of one race at Navan on Saturday week. The conditions of the race allow him to run and we are looking forward to getting him back.”
Despite the open look to the Champion Hurdle, Harrington is not tempted to try to regain the two-mile hurdling crown come March, and is intent on running her eight-time Grade 1 winner in the Stayers' Hurdle.
She said: “After Navan, he will probably run at Gowran Park in the Red Mills Hurdle on Saturday, February 18. All going well, he will then be aimed at the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.”
Faugheen nears return
Irish racing fans may also catch a glimpse of Faugheen at the end of this month after Rich Ricci confirmed the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle could be the scene of the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner’s return.
It was in the Irish Champion Hurdle that Faugheen suffered a suspensory ligament injury that has kept him out of action since last January. However, Ricci remains optimistic his star is almost ready to return in the Grade 1 contest.
Ricci, who is also chairman of online bookmaker BetBright, said in a blog for the firm: "I'm very hopeful we will see Faugheen in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle on January 29th. We are not there yet, but the signs are positive."
Ricci also offered offer his thoughts on a prospective rematch for his novice chasing star Min with his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle conqueror Altior in the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham.
He said: "We have a bit to find with him but they both look better chasers than hurdlers and we are looking forward to taking him on again."