Punchestown Festival: Jezki rules the World

A step up to 3m for two brilliant hurdlers saw Jezki (5/2) come out a 1 3/4 lengths ahead of old rival Hurricane Fly (6/4 favourite) to win the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday.

“He jumped brilliantly,” said Jezki’s trainer Jessica Harrington. “He’s an amazing horse to have and I’m pleased for Mark (Walsh), who gave the horse a brilliant ride. It’s very special, Punchestown is my local track.

“It was a re-route coming here. We thought we’d try something new and the family all stay well. The race at Cheltenham was run at a slow pace, Ruby (Walsh) dictated things and it didn’t work out for us. But Jezki has now won two Grade 1s this season so you couldn’t say it had been disappointing. I don’t know what trip he’ll run over next season, it’s a long way off. But none of that family jumps fences very well so I think he’ll be sticking to hurdles.”

Jockey Mark Walsh added: “Jezki travelled too well. He settled lovely early on but got a little bit lit up coming up here [away from stands] first time. He was in my hands for a whole circuit and must be some horse to win. I was trying to get him to drop and drop it, but he wouldn’t and it just shows his class has got him through.

“It was his first time over three miles and he has ground it out and won well. I was worried he might not get home but he kicked on and stayed all the way to the line. He’s won at the Festival here for the last three years and I hope he’ll be coming back here for a long time.”

Successful owner J P McManus said: “It is nice to beat the Hurricane, but he is such a marvellous horse having won all those Grade Ones. He has been the best hurdler for a long time. It is great to beat him and even though it is over three miles it’s still great. He owed us one!

“The fact Jezki won today tells us he definitely gets three miles, which we thought he would because he won the Hatton’s Grace over two and a half miles a year and a half ago. I didn’t think stamina would be his problem, I thought Hurricane Fly would be his problem.

“Faugheen is a very good Champion Hurdle winner and we went for the easier option by coming for this race, even though we still had Hurricane Fly to take care of.

“Faugheen beat us convincingly at Cheltenham and sometimes I get a bit worried when horses get beat a few times because it can knock their confidence. They need a win and I think the win at Aintree gave Jezki a lift. He looked in peak condition for the end of the season and Jessie has done a great job.”

Trainer Willie Mullins said of Hurricane Fly: “Hurricane Fly was probably not as fluent down the back as Jezki and I think that is where the race was won.

“They both turned for home with a chance but it was Jezki’s turn today.”
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