Champion not ruled out for Jezki following impressive return
The 2014 Champion Hurdle hero Jezki made light of a 632-day absence when an impressive winner of the Race Displays Event Signage Hurdle at Navan, after which trainer Jessica Harrington was not ruling out another crack at the hurdling crown at Cheltenham in March.
The Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle had been identified as Jezki's target after he was taken out of next week's Irish Champion Hurdle this month, but so supremely well did he travel through this race under Barry Geraghty and so well did he pick up on the climb to the finish that the Stan James Champion Hurdle may well be in the thoughts of connections once more.
The son of Milan looked like his old self, travelling really strongly throughout, getting to the front on the bridle between the final two flights and then picking up again when challenged after a terrific leap at the final flight. It is clear from this that he can still do a job over the minimum trip, as he went away for a length and three-quarters victory over Renneti with the long-absent Tombstone another length away in third.
Harrington said: "Barry [Geraghty] said he took a blow going down the back, blew up again after the second-last and then just filled up and went away. That was great and you couldn't ask for any more," said Harrington.
"We had him ready to run at Christmas and he got a little bit of a setback. Every time you go you worry about whether you have done too much or not done enough and whether he has his old spark."
She added: "He was very settled there and was really good. I'll have to talk to JP [McManus] and Frank Berry and see where we go, but it might well be the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran [over 2m]."
Pressed about whether this might put a crack at the Champion Hurdle back on the agenda, Harrington said: "We'll see. We know he gets three miles so we have options which is great. The Red Mills will be another stepping stone and he gets into it without a penalty. There isn't really another alternative race."
Bookmaker reaction was to cut him for both festival races. He is now a best-priced 8-1 with several firms for the Stayers' Hurdle, and while most firms also cut him for the Champion Hurdle he is a best-priced 25-1 with BetVictor.