Cheltenham Festival 2014: Jezki beats Ulster's Hurricane Fly and AP McCoy on My Tent Or Yours to take Champion Hurdle
Jezki got the better of My Tent Or Yours to claim victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Jessica Harrington's charge travelled powerfully in the hands of Barry Geraghty and loomed large alongside dual winner Hurricane Fly rounding the home turn.
Tony McCoy's mount My Tent Or Yours, like Jezki carrying the colours of JP McManus, came to challenge Jezki after the final flight but the Irish raider dug deep to prevail by a neck.
The New One finished strongly to grab third spot, having been hampered by the fall of Our Conor early in the race.
Ulster-owned Hurricane Fly had to settle for fourth.
There was a strong pace from the outset in the two-mile showpiece, with Captain Cee Bee challenged by Our Conor, just ahead of hat-trick seeking 11-4 favourite Hurricane Fly.
The decisive moment in the race was Our Conor's heavy fall at the third flight, severely compromising The New One's chance in the process.
Hurricane Fly travelled with his usual zest in the hands of Ruby Walsh and moved sweetly to the lead, but it was clear 9-1 shot Jezki had much more to give, sporting a hood for the first time.
Harrington's charge moved to the lead on the run to the final flight and jumped it well, but My Tent Or Yours emerged as a serious threat in the hands of McCoy.
The champion jockey threw everything at the Nicky Henderson-trained runner-up, but Jezki was not for passing.
Jezki had been ridden in his four previous starts this season by McCoy.
Geraghty, now unbeaten in five outings on Jezki, said: "He's a great little horse. He had good form and he didn't have a lot to find with the best of them. I don't think his price reflected his chance.
"It was also a great run by the runner-up. I'm sure JP (McManus) will be delighted with the first two home. The runner-up was getting to me, I needed the line.
"I've been riding winners for Jessie since I was 17 or 18. She's been great to me over the years with the likes of Moscow Flyer and it's great to do it again here for her."
Harrington said: "It's fantastic, it really is. It's great to be in this position.
"He's a great favourite of mine. He's a great horse and Barry has a great record on him.
"I always had great faith in the horse. He's a smashing horse, he really is.
"He relaxed well (in a first-time hood) and he got through the preliminaries, which was great.
"The horse battled terrifically well."
McManus said: "The National Hunt season centred around the Champion Hurdle for me because I didn't have any Gold Cup horses and I'm unlikely to win the Grand National.
"The Champion Hurdle was all-important and full marks to everybody - Nicky (Henderson), Jessie (Harrington) and Eddie (Harty) to have their horses looking in mint condition as well as all the other runners in the race. They were all a credit.
"It's a very special day."
The New One's trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "He definitely lost more ground than he was beaten through no fault of his own. It was just very hard luck.
"In the Christmas Hurdle he was unlucky and he was unlucky here. Let's hope we can stop it.
"What could Sam (Twiston-Davies) say? I was so proud of him, having been dealt a very bad hand, the way he got the horse back in the race very gently and there at the last, so well done him.
"I'm wondering just how good our horse is. He hasn't proved it today but maybe he is very, very good.
"If he's OK, we'll certainly go to Aintree."
Sam Twiston-Davies said: "We didn't have much chance to avoid him. It happened very quickly.
"I think of what might have been. It cost me six lengths and I got beat two.
"I'm delighted for the horse, he tried his best. He's young, he's got time on his side and we're very lucky to have him."
Despite being treated at length on the track, Our Conor, such a brilliant winner of the Triumph Hurdle 12 months ago, had to be put down as a result of his injuries.
The British Horseracing Authority tweeted: "Sad to confirm that Our Conor, after extensive treatment by veterinary surgeons, was humanely put down due to a suspected serious back injury."
Willie Mullins refused to be too disheartened by the eclipse of Hurricane Fly.
He said: "My view is that one disappointing one is not the end of the world, as he still retains his enthusiasm.
"I think he just got tired, after the second-last I knew the game was up.
"I hoped he'd pick up, but it didn't happen.
"We will do what we normally do and go on to Punchestown."
Henderson said: "The only person who probably really enjoyed it was JP as at the last he knew he was going to win.
"I feel sorry for AP (McCoy), as it's always difficult making decisions and getting the wrong one, but they are two good horses.
"Jessica and Johnny (Harrington) nearly always stay with us. Johnny sadly hasn't come over this year as he hasn't been too well, so that was a great result.
"Nobody likes finishing second, but that was the person I wanted to finish second to if I had to. All the best to Johnny, I hope he's enjoyed it and well done them.
"AP came in and said 'how can he pull that hard and still finish like that?' - you just can't do that.
"He said they weren't going fast enough. I think we'll have to find two six furlong horses - one can do the first six furlongs and another one can go at the six-furlong marker!
"I don't know. We're going to have to find a way of doing this, I don't know how, but that's our job.
"He's got to learn to drop the bridle a bit. It was a proper Champion Hurdle."
Asked about targets for the remainder of the season, he said: "There's Ireland (Punchestown), but I'll speak to JP and see what he wants to do.
"I don't think Aintree is an option. Two and a half miles around there isn't going to help us.
"I could go to Royal Ascot. A mile and a half round there would be super! A nice Group Two would be fine - he might not pull that hard there, but he'd enjoy it wouldn't he?
"I'll discuss it all with JP."
Belfast Telegraph Digital