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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Punchestown 2015: Jezki is tops in battle of the Champs

Jezki, with Mark Walsh up, after clearing the last ahead of Hurricane Fly, with Ruby Walsh up, who finished second, on their way to winning the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle. Punchestown Racecourse, Punchestown, Co. Kildare
Jezki, with Mark Walsh up, after clearing the last ahead of Hurricane Fly, with Ruby Walsh up, who finished second, on their way to winning the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle. Punchestown Racecourse, Punchestown, Co. Kildare

As expected by many, Ireland’s premier long distance hurdle turned into a battle of the former Champion Hurdle winners as Jezki and Hurricane Fly battled out the finish in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday – and it was to be Jessica Harrington’s Jezki who ended up reigning supreme.

Harrington’s stable star would provide Mark Walsh with a career highlight and a fitting end to the season which only for a leg and ankle injury sustained in late February would probably have seen him crowned champion jockey for the first time.

Jezki initially jumped off behind his old nemesis in the rear of the field but he travelled extremely well throughout and always looked a likely winner once looming into the home straight.

Harrington was clearly delighted with Jezki’s first tilt at three miles but admitted no future plans would be decided this side of the seven-year-old’s summer holidays.

“It was a re-route coming here. We thought we’d try something new and the family all stay well. The race at Cheltenham was run at a slow pace, Ruby (Walsh) dictated things and it didn’t work out for us. But Jezki has now won two Grade 1s this season so you couldn’t say it had been disappointing. I don’t know what trip he’ll run over next season, it’s a long way off. But none of that family jumps fences very well so I think he’ll be sticking to hurdles.”

Walsh and McManus enjoyed a double on the card as Jacksonslady was a comprehensive winner of the Three.ie Handicap Chase for trainer Philip Dempsey.

The 10-year-old classy mare was winning for the 10th time in her career which is likely to end this year with Dempsey suggesting a return to the Galway Plate could be on the agenda after she was previously third in the race behind Carlingford Lough.

Dempsey said: “She’ll be going to stud at some stage and I’m delighted by that win. She’d been going great at home and this is her ground. She’s a real battler.”

The crowds continued to rise at this weeks Punchestown Festival with yesterday’s figure of 17,435 up from last year’s total of 16,158.

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