Jessica Harrington has tentatively planned the remaining campaign this season for her star novice hurdler, Jezki, who put up a fine performance when beating Champagne Fever by a length-and-a-half to win the Grade 1 Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novices Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the start of the month, writes Elliot Slater.
With the gelded son of Milan having come out of the Fairyhouse contest in great style, Harrington intends to saddle the four-year-old in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novices Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 27.
That race, in recent years, has seen some of Ireland’s best hurdlers such as subsequent Champion Hurdle winner, Hurricane Fly, win before going on to feature in the horseracing tips pages for bigger and better events.
The rapid improvement shown by Jezki has possibly come as something of a pleasant surprise to all concerned with the horse, who had looked as though his future might possibly lie over fences after being exposed for lack of place in the Cheltenham Festival Bumper last March behind Champagne Fever.
He had previously scored in National Hunt Flat races at Leopardstown on each of his first two outings.
Hurdles though seem to have been the making of the young Irish horse, who completed his hattrick with his big win at Fairyhouse, taking the scalp of no lesser horse than his Cheltenham conqueror, Champagne Fever.
His winning run had begun in a maiden hurdle at Naas, where Jezki stayed on well close home to score by three-quarters-of-a-length from Ally Cascade, before returning to the same track to bolt up in the Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle beating Beau Matin by eight lengths.
Now a 12/1 co-favourite in the horse racing odds book for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, a win at Leopardstown over the Christmas period could well see Harrington’s rising star made clear favourite to win the opening race of the coveted Festival meeting.