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Jezki in great shape to swat Hurricane Fly, insists Jessica Harrington

By Frank Brownlow

Jezki has been confirmed as Ulster-owned Hurricane Fly's main challenger in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown at the end of the month.

Hurricane Fly is being lined up to take his amazing Grade One tally to 22 victories with a re-match against Jezki.

The Fly clinched top-level victory number 21 by getting the better of Jezki in a dramatic clash in the Ryan Hurdle at Leopardstown just over a week ago.

Jezki's trainer Jessica Harrington last night indicated that the gifted seven-year-old - winner of the 2013 WKD Hurdle at the Down Royal Festival under Ulster great Tony McCoy - will have another go back at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Hurdle on January 25.

Hurricane Fly - owned by Rose Boyd from Crossgar and Belfast's George Creighton - narrowly outpointed Harrington's stable star in a pulsating climax to the Ryanair Hurdle, making the score between the pair four wins to two in favour of the 11-year-old.

Willie Mullins' charge retained his unbeaten record at Leopardstown, but Harrington has taken plenty of heart from the fact the reigning Champion Hurdle winner pushed him all the way to the line.

The Kildare handler said: "Everything is good. He's come out of the race at Christmas well and we're happy with him.

"He got closer to Hurricane Fly than he ever has before at Leopardstown, so we'll take him on again.

"We're happy with where we are and we'll take things as they come," added Harrington.

Hurricane Fly's two Champion Hurdle victories - in 2011 and 2013 - have been the highlights of a glittering career.

And the Fly is in line to have a crack at what would be a stunning hat-trick at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Jezki won last year's big Cheltenham showdown, Hurricane trailing home in fourth.

Despite the Down Royal Festival success four months earlier, McCoy turned down Jezki to ride My Tent Or Yours - which subsequently finished second to confirm the old adage about jockeys being poor tipsters.

Given Hurricane Fly's advanced years, it would be a surprise if he triumphed in the big race again, reflected in quotes of around 14-1.

Stablemate Faugheen is the 5-4 favourite, with Jezki 6-1 behind The New One at 11-4.

Belfast Telegraph


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