Harrington tries Jezki in cheekpieces in bid to rekindle star's sparkle
Jezki, the 2014 Champion Hurdle winner, will be extremely hard to beat if returning to his best in the opening 2m hurdle (2.45) at Fairyhouse on Monday.
After spending more than 600 days on the sidelines, the JP McManus-owned nine-year-old won on his first start back at Navan in January, beating Renneti comfortably.
He was then beaten at 2-5 in the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park before finishing down the field in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
In a bid to reignite the spark in one of her stable stars, Jessica Harrington has fitted Jezki with cheekpieces for the first time.
The trainer said: "We just feel he's keeping a little bit to himself these days, but this looks like a good opportunity so we'll see what happens.”
It is often the case that sprinters improve with age, but you do not usually see hurdlers improving at the age of 12. Yet Shark Hanlon believes Hidden Cyclone is “as good as ever” as he bids to get the better of Jezki.
The amateur rider battle between Patrick Mullins and Jamie Codd has thrown up another intriguing subplot to the season, and Hanlon admits he would love to give Mullins a winner as he bids to hang on to his crown.
He said: “Jezki will be hard beat but our lad is as well as he’s ever been and should be knocking on the door again.
“Patrick rang looking for the ride and I had no problem giving it to him because he knows the horse well. It would be great to give him a winner. All we can do is try, and I think we should go close.”
Lady serves Butler well
A field of seven will go to post for the Grade 3 mares' chase (5.45) and Westerner Lady is expected to go off a short-priced favourite for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.
Owner Anthony Butler originally tried to sell her, but when he failed to receive an offer after placing the mare on the Done Deal website, he was forced to put her into training.
Butler has not looked back as Westerner Lady has landed ten of her 15 starts, and has won five of her six races over fences.
The ground at Fairyhouse on Monday is likely to be good to yielding, with minimal rain expected.