Jezki steps up after step down to win at Leopardstown
Jessica Harrington’s 10-year-old hurdler wins under Barry Geraghty
Jezki got back to winning ways at Leopardstown on Friday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Jezki made the most of having his sights lowered to register a 16th career victory in the Leopardstown Classic Trials Day April 14th Hurdle.
Jessica Harrington’s charge has won eight Grade Ones, including the 2014 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, but it is nearly three years since he last struck at the highest level when seeing off old rival Hurricane Fly at the Punchestown Festival.
The 10-year-old kicked off this season by winning the Istabraq Hurdle at Tipperary in October and although he has struggled in Grade One events since, most recently placing fourth behind stablemate Supasundae in last month’s Irish Champion Hurdle, he was the 11-10 favourite to stamp his class on this five-runner conditions event.
Barry Geraghty cut a confident figure in the saddle throughout and while he gave his supporters a scare by diving at the final fence, he managed to stay on all fours and galloped on tenaciously to score by two lengths from Lieutenant Colonel.
The Willie Mullins-trained Karlee, Ruby Walsh’s second ride back after injury, was just a head further back in third.
Harrington said: “It’s great to see him back, although he did his best to capsize at the last. Barry said he was very long but he quickened up well after it
“I’m delighted with him and it’s great to win another race with him. The race was almost written with him in mind.
“He may go to Aintree or may go to Punchestown. It will depend on the ground. He will go to one of those two.”
Pallasator made it third time lucky over jumps in the Donohoe Marquees Maiden Hurdle.
A former winner of the Doncaster Cup when trained by Mark Prescott, the giant nine-year-old joined Gordon Elliott last autumn and although he has managed to win a charity race on the level under Norman Williamson, he could only finish fifth and fourth on his first two starts over hurdles.
Sent off at 2-1 on his third attempt in the hands of Davy Russell, Pallasator travelled with plenty of zest and readily extended seven and a half lengths clear of Dunvegan.
Elliott’s assistant, Ian ‘Busty’ Amond, said: “He obviously has plenty of ability and it was grand to get his head in front. It was probably a weak enough race but it will give him plenty of confidence and hopefully he can kick on from that.
“I’d say better ground will probably suit him. Every race he’s behaving himself more and more and if he stays doing that he’ll be all right.”
Russell added: “Sheikh Fahad [owner] enjoys watching them and is pleased that he’s made the transition. All owners want is winners and hopefully it may open up the door to some more in those colours.”