Faugheen fear for Harrington
Jezki's trainer still 'quitely confident' ahead of Champion Hurdle defence next month
Despite suffering defeat at the hands of Hurricane Fly three times this season, Jessica Harrington has pinpointed the 11-year-old's stable companion, Faugheen, as the biggest danger to Jezki's Champion Hurdle defence next month.
Jezki was due to work this morning as his preparations for the Cheltenham Festival continue and while the trainer is happy with her current stable star, she admitted that "without a doubt" Faugheen was the horse she was most wary of.
"He's beaten what's been served up to him in England and I just think he's the unknown quantity - like Jezki was last year. He is the up-and-coming horse," Harrington said at her Moone stables yesterday morning.
"We still have Hurricane Fly," she continued. "And I know Willie still loves Hurricane Fly to death, but Faugheen is the young fella on the block, and he's the one to beat I think."
Despite not winning since the Punchestown Festival, Harrington is hopeful that this time of year will yet again bring out the best in Jezki.
"We've had a good preparation and I'm happy with him. Yes, it was slightly disappointing that he made a mistake at the last at Leopardstown but that may be a blessing in disguise as he didn't have a hard race that day.
"He came bouncing back out of that race and he just loves this time of year - maybe he is a spring horse."
Harrington has saddled eight Cheltenham Festival winners and knows what it takes to get it ready for the meeting she described as horse racing's Olympics.
"I'm quietly confident that Jezki can win but I'm not shouting my mouth off from the rooftops, I'm just a bit like last year and hoping that he can go and win it.
"If he does, it would be up there with Moscow Flyer but I'm certainly not going to start comparing them!"
Harrington, who has 106 in training at the moment, is aiming to have a select team of five or six runners at Cheltenham next month including the reformed Jetson, who has developed into a Grade One winner and possible World Hurdle contender.
"Funnily, Jetson decided at the age of nine that he wanted to be a Grade One horse and in his first start out of handicap company he went and beat Quevega at Punchestown.
"I thought that it may have been a bit of a fluke but he's come out twice this season and finished second behind Lieutenant Colonel and if he had stayed jumping fences I'd have been much happier!"
With More Of That, last year's World Hurdle winner, a doubt, Harrington is hopeful that Jetson, Jezki's half-brother, can run a big race.
"I think the race will be run to suit him and he stays really well. I don't think the English stayers are any better than the Irish ones. Beat That's only been seen once this season, At Fishers Cross looks like he's gone, More Of That's in trouble.
"It's an open race this year and he's entitled to have a go. If he gets in the first three, I'll be delighted."
With Road To Riches a leading Gold Cup contender, Harrington is hopeful that her charge Burn And Turn, who was second to Road To Riches in the Galway Plate, can run well in a handicap at Cheltenham.
"She was second in the Galway Plate to Road To Riches, which is quite good form and she'll run in the two-mile-five handicap chase, provided that the ground is reasonably good," said Jessica.
She always goes well fresh, so I'd be happy that she'd run a good race and she's a good jumper. She won at Punchestown last year over two-five so I think it's the right distance for her."
Kabjoy is a Fred Winter candidate, providing the handicapper doesn't treat her harshly, while Modem, who was second in the Boylesports Hurdle, could run in one of the handicaps providing he makes the cut.
Harrington sent Ttebbob to win Clonmel's opener yesterday and with entries in both the Coral Cup and Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Race, he may make the trip. A decision on Wednesday's winner Rock On The Moor will be left for another week.