Nicky Henderson's plans for this weekend's Cheltenham fixture look like proving crucial to whether Barry Geraghty will be reunited with his Champion Hurdle winning partner Jezki in Sunday's Grade One highlight at Punchestown.
With Tony McCoy on the injury sidelines, Geraghty is an obvious candidate to again fill the "super-sub" role on Jessica Harrington's star performer when he returns to action in the €80,000 Stanjames. com Morgiana Hurdle and likely clash with the former title-holder, Hurricane Fly.
Geraghty rode Jezki to his memorable Champion Hurdle victory last March after McCoy elected to stick with JP McManus’s other top hurdler, My Tent Or Yours, who finished runner up in a rousing finish.
However Geraghty could be claimed by his boss, Henderson, to ride at Cheltenham on Sunday where the lucrative Greatwood Hurdle is the feature event and the top English trainer has the current 4-1 favourite Vaniteaux.
"At this stage we're working on the basis that Barry will be available but it all depends on Nicky's plans for Cheltenham," said McManus's racing manager Frank Berry. "The horse is very well and we're happy with him."
Robbie Power is another jockey to have ridden Jezki to Grade One success during his novice career and is one option if Geraghty is unavailable while the McManus team also have the option of turning to their retained rider in Ireland, Mark Walsh.
Hurricane Fly shades Jezki in ante-post betting for the Morgiana despite the younger horse having beaten him in their last two clashes, at Cheltenham and the Punchestown festival in May.
also has Faugheen entered in this Sunday’s race but indicated that Hurricane Fly, the Grade One world-record holder, will be his sole representative in a race he has won for the last two years.
“At the moment he runs and I’m happy with him. He’s as forward as he can be at this stage of the season,” the champion trainer said.
In other news, the JP McManus team are blaming very testing ground conditions in France on Saturday for the eclipse of their good two-year-old Clonard Street in the Group One Criterium De -Saint-Cloud.
Clonard Street finished last behind the unbeaten French star Epicurius who is now as low as 16-1 for 2015’s Epsom Derby.
"Fran (Berry) said it was Navan January soft," trainer Tony Martin said. "He turned in looking like he'd be in the first two but it was very testing and he left him alone when his chance was gone."