Racing Post Champion Hurdle
|Grade 1, Punchestown
2m, Class 1
|Friday 2nd May 2014|
1 Jezki 4/5F
2 Hurricane Fly Evs
3 Steps To Freedom 20/1
3 ran Distances: 3¼l, 12l
TIME 4m 6.80s (slow by 20.80s)
A fantastic match in the Grade 1 Racing Post Champion Hurdle saw Jezki, winner of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, see off 19-time Grade 1 winner Hurricane Fly, who had captured the Punchestown feature for the past four seasons, by three and a quarter lengths.
It was a sixth win of the Festival for trainer Jessica Harrington, who said: “He came back fresh from Cheltenham but you never know how they are until you run them. I’m delighted to have won because if he had been beaten people would have said it was a soft Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
“It all went according to plan today and I let A P (McCoy) do whatever he wanted. He’s the best in the world so why give him instructions. The horse is fresh and keen and he jumped better when they went quicker. The hood helps him, especially on a buzzy day like today.
“He is only six, he’s a young horse and I’d say he’ll stay hurdling for next season and take a similar route as this time. This week has been something else, it’s been a dream really.
“We knew Hurricane Fly would be harder to beat on his home soil and he is still a great horse.
“We got lucky today. Hurricane Fly has beaten us twice this season and now we’ve beaten him twice. We are two all at the moment.
“Jezki is relaxing more now. He is a young horse so it not that battle-hardened.
“He had been ridden from the front before at Down Royal earlier in the year and we have ridden him from behind. I think he is a very straightforward horse that you could ride anywhere.
“A P had only ever ridden him before on very soft ground and he feels a better horse on good ground.
“It has been amazing. I said to David Minton yesterday morning that I don’t know how I will get on today but I think I might have three winners on Friday. When I had three winners yesterday, I said I have probably used up all my luck!
“I could never have imagined Jezki and Jetson both winning Grade 1s this week. Jetson has stepped up to the plate – he is a nine-year-old and has never looked like winning a Grade 1 before.
“I must say thank you to all my staff at home. Especially Eamonn, Nigel and all the people who ride out. I haven’t been there some of the time but they have all got on with their work and been fantastic.”
McCoy said: “Jezki felt better today than he has ever felt. Sometimes horses get confidence from winning and he was definitely better today than he ever was.
“It’s a great training performance by Jessica Harrington. I am delighted for J P (McManus, owner) and more so for Noreen because she has been looking after me all week at Martinstown (Stud). This one is for Noreen for her nice hospitality and looking after me so well.
“It was not ideal being in front. Jezki has a tendency to jump left and it is more exaggerated when he is out in front, but he felt like a proper Champion Hurdle horse today.
“It’s great for Jessica. She has had a wonderful couple of days, but it has been a tough time with the passing of her husband Johnny.
“I think Johnny has got a bit more power up there than people thought and full credit to Jessica for producing Jezki in top condition for two big days.”
Owner J P McManus said: “Jezki has done it well, but full marks to Hurricane Fly. He has been an outstanding horse and was coming here to win it for the fifth time, so we have got a bit of catching up to do. I’d just like to say what a great horse he is and maybe we weren’t meeting him at his best today.
“I’m delighted to have Jezki and I am delighted for Jessie, especially after the sad loss of Johnny. It’s a great day and will be a memorable one.
“I didn’t get involved with the tactics. A P had ridden Jezki four times this year, so he knew plenty about him and he got it right.
“A P has been staying and it has been great to have him about the place, looking at the young horses and things.”
Hurricane Fly’s trainer Willie Mullins said: “Jezki is a worthy champion and he’s come back well from Cheltenham and is obviously on the upgrade. Jessie’s horses are flying. We have no excuses with Hurricane Fly, he just never travelled and the winner travelled much better. That’s it for the season and he’ll go out for grass now over the summer.”
Racing Post Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)
€200000.00 added, 4yo plus, 2m, Class 1
Going: Good to Yielding
|Place||Horse / Trainer||Jockey||Owner||Odds|
Mrs John Harrington
| A.P. McCoy
|John P. McManus||4/5F|
3 1/4 L
|1. Hurricane Fly
| R. Walsh
|George Creighton/Mrs Rose Boyd||1/1|
|3. Steps To Freedom
Mrs John Harrington
| R.M. Power
|Mrs Sean Hussey||20/1|