Cheltenham clues on offer with Jezki - but for which race?
3.05 Gowran Park
Red Mills Trial Hurdle | 2m | Grade 3 | ATR
This might not be a traditional trial for the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle given that it is over a mile shorter on a right-handed track but, should Jezki justify his skimpy odds, he is highly likely to inch closer to the fellow JP McManus-owned Unowhatimeanharry in the market for the Thursday feature of the Cheltenham Festival.
Jezki was the subject of significant support for the Stayers' Hurdle on Tuesday with his price plunging to a low of 9-2 with Ladbrokes and, while Jessica Harrington has yet to reveal what his festival target is, it is looking increasingly likely that he will swerve the Champion Hurdle and leave Buveur D'Air and Yanworth to fly the McManus flag.
Jezki could hardly have made a more encouraging return to action. The usual zest was there, as was the fluent jumping, and his class shone through after the last as he easily brushed aside Renneti and Tombstone. The last named is back for more and seeking revenge this time.
Tombstone was fourth in last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, form that does not look too shabby now given what the three ahead of him – Altior, Min and Buveur D'Air – have gone on to achieve this season. He might have been no match for Jezki at Navan, but that performance is sure to bring him on.
Rashaan was ruled out of a crack at the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury because of an inflated British mark, but he showed his wellbeing on the Flat at Dundalk with a gutsy win last time and should not be underestimated for all that he has to give weight away to everything.
Jezki has won 12 of his 19 starts over hurdles and it is worth noting that his seven defeats were all in Grade 1 company. He has never lost a race of any sort when stepping out of the top tier over jumps.
What they say
Colin Kidd, trainer of Rashaan
We know it's going to be almost impossible to give Jezki 8lb on this sort of ground, but sure there is good prize-money for being placed so we said we may as well take our chance. We're only 15 minutes away and it's our local track. He showed a brilliant attitude to win at Dundalk and Sean [Flanagan] came down to school him the other morning and was thrilled.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of Jezki
I'm looking forward to it but I will be just as nervous as I was at Navan! It doesn't get any easier on the nerves. He has certainly improved since Navan and come on a lot for the run. Fingers crossed everything will go according to plan and then we have start to have a think about what we'll do with regards to Cheltenham. We'll get this out of the way first though.
Ronnie O'Neill, trainer of Rory O'Moore
He has been third in the race twice and if he could finish third again I'd be over the moon. He has been a great servant over the years and hopefully he will put in a clear round and pick up some appearance money. The ground will be testing and he'll love that.
Bryan Cooper, rider of Tombstone
He's a horse I've always liked and his run in the Supreme does not look too bad now, does it? He was just behind Buveur D'Air, who is now favourite for the Champion Hurdle. His form looks rock-solid and that was a lovely return against Jezki last time. Hopefully he'll improve upon that and put it up to Jezki.