A mouth-watering end-of-season home ground clash between the new title-holder Jezki and the deposed champion Hurricane Fly is on the cards for Punchestown.
Jessica Harrington has confirmed the newly sponsored €200,000 Racing Post Champion Hurdle on May 2nd is the target for Jezki who secured the Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham 15 days ago in a memorable finish with another JP McManus-owned star, My Tent Or Yours.
Back in fourth on that occasion was Hurricane Fly, a former dual-festival hero who nevertheless has a mixed Cheltenham record in marked contrast to a record in Ireland which has seen the vast majority of his world-record 19 Grade One victories.
That tally includes the last four renewals of the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown and Willie Mullins has indicated an attempt at a remarkable five-in-a-row, and a 20th top-flight success, will come at the end-of-campaign finale.
Hurricane Fly was five lengths behind Jezki at Cheltenham but prior to that had beaten the younger star twice at Leopardstown this season. But Jezki has his own proven Grade One credentials at Punchestown having won at last year’s festival.
Jessica Harrington reported yesterday: “Jezki appears to have come out of his Cheltenham race well . . . the plan is to go to Punchestown.”
Enda Bolger has earlier priorities and will run On The Fringe and Mossey Joe in tomorrow week's Crabbies Foxhunters over the big fences at Aintree.
On The Fringe was third to Tammys Hill and Carsonstown Boy in an Irish clean sweep of the hunters highlight at Cheltenham while Mossey Joe is a relatively new recruit to Bolger's team after being bought by owner Barry Connell.
“On The Fringe just didn’t seem to get home at Cheltenham. Nina [Carberry] thought she had the two boys in front covered at the second last, but he just didn’t stay as well as those two. He’ll go to Liverpool along with Mossey Joe,” said Bolger. “Mossey Joe had a nice run in point-to-point and he’ll go as long as the ground doesn’t get too soft. The ground should be fine for On The Fringe. If it was his first run of the season I wouldn’t be keen on him running on fast ground but he’s fit now so it’s easier for him.”