Jezki bursts Champagne bubble
Jezki completed a significant hat-trick in an exciting renewal of the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Champagne Fever, last season's Cheltenham Champion Bumper hero, attempted to make all the running under Ruby Walsh, and still held an advantage after the last flight.
But the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki (9-4) looked to be travelling strongly and showed plenty of fight on the run-in to take the two-mile Grade One contest by a length and a half in the hands of Barry Geraghty.
The well-regarded Minsk had every chance, but finished fourth. Zuzka, by contrast, stayed on stoutly to take third spot.
Geraghty said: "We were hoping he'd do that - he showed great pace at Naas. He was very good, although I think he is better than that. There's a lot to like about him."
Harrington added: "I'm absolutely thrilled, it all went to plan. Barry said that's what he was going to do - sit in behind the others. When he gave him a squeeze three out he knew he had a lot of horse. He was straight and true where it mattered and when they were going a bit quicker he concentrated more.
"The Supreme Novices' is the long-term target as he's a two-miler. We'll have to discuss plans with the owner, but he'll have at least one more run before Cheltenham. He could easily run at Christmas (if the ground is good) and after that I don't know. He's only four and he's bound to improve a bit for more experience.
"I was a little bit worried about going right-handed for the first time as all his runs have been left-handed. He's always wanted better ground. The whole family want it on top and I'd imagine he'll be better on better ground too."
Owner Rich Ricci said of runner-up Champagne Fever: "He needs further - we were right in thinking that. He ran a good race - beaten by a good horse, probably the only real two-miler in the line-up. We'll learn from this and probably stretch him up in distance. It's what we do in March that counts."
Jezki, who had won his last two races at Naas, was unsurprisingly cut in price for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, for which he is now as low as 8-1.