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  • 15:20 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 2m 110y

  • (Grade 1) £418,000 added 4yo+ 9 ran
  • Winner £238,051 2nd £89,327 3rd £44,726 4th £22,279
  • Going: Good to Soft, Good in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 3m 44.60s
  • Off time: 15:20:13

Jezki was a 9/1 winner of the Champion Hurdle after an enthralling finish

Last Updated: 11/03/14 7:23pm

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Jezki secured a thrilling Champion Hurdle success

Jezki secured a thrilling Champion Hurdle success

Irish raider Jezki (9/1) held off My Tent Or Yours to win a thrilling renewal of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, with dual former winner Hurricane Fly back in fourth.

The New One ran a cracking race to take third place behind the two JP McManus-owned runners, having been hampered earlier on when Our Conor had fallen.

And there was a tragic aftermath to the race when it was announced that Our Conor had been put down as a result of his injuries.

The two-mile contest for the best hurdlers around had been even more eagerly-awaited than usual due to the clutch of top-notch performers in the line-up and Captain Cee Bee led the way early on.

However, there was an unfortunate incident six from home when last year's Triumph Hurdle winner Our Conor came down and almost took The New One (100/30) with him.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Fly was tracking the leader, with My Tent Or Yours (3/1) on his heels, but Jezki was also travelling well under Barry Geraghty and edged past Hurricane Fly on the run to the last.

The Jessica Harrington-trained winner had been one of the lower-profile contenders in the build-up but he powered towards the final flight, leaving Hurricane Fly in his wake.

However, My Tent Or Yours could not be shaken off so readily and the JP McManus-owned duo were left to fight out a thrilling finish.

But Jezki took the last really well and stayed on gamely up the straight to keep Tony McCoy at bay on the runner-up and score by a neck.

Having recovered after being hampered, The New One then dropped back rounding the home turn, but then finished strongly to claim third place, two and a half lengths back.

It was a second victory in the Champion Hurdle for Geraghty and he is now unbeaten in five starts on Jezki.

"He's a great little horse," said the rider. "He had good form and he didn't have a lot to find with the best of them. I don't think his price reflected his chance.

"It was also a great run by the runner-up and I'm sure JP (McManus) will be delighted with the first two home. The runner-up was getting to me, I needed the line.

"I've been riding winners for Jessie (Harrington) since I was 17 or 18. She's been great to me over the years with the likes of (former dual Champion Chase winner) Moscow Flyer and it's great to do it again here for her."

Harrington added: "It's fantastic, it really is. It's great to be in this position.

"He's a great favourite of mine. He's a smashing horse and Barry has a great record on him. I always had great faith in the horse.

"He relaxed well (in a first-time hood) and he got through the preliminaries, which was great. The horse battled terrifically well."

McManus was left to savour the feeling of owning the first and second in the biggest hurdles race of the year.

"It's a very special day," he said. "The National Hunt season centred around the Champion Hurdle for me, because I didn't have any Gold Cup horses and I'm unlikely to win the Grand National."

The New One's trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "He definitely lost more ground than he was beaten, through no fault of his own. It was just very hard luck.

"What could Sam (Twiston-Davies, jockey) say? I was so proud of him. Having been dealt a very bad hand, he got the horse back in the race very gently, so well done him.

"I'm wondering just how good our horse is. He hasn't proved it today but maybe he is very, very good. If he's OK, we'll certainly go to Aintree."

Tony McCoy had to choose between the first two and opted for the Nicky Henderson-trained runner-up My Tent Or Yours.

Henderson said: "I feel sorry for AP (McCoy), as it's always difficult making decisions and getting the wrong one, but they are two good horses.

"AP came in and said 'how can he pull that hard and still finish like that?' - you just can't do that. He said they weren't going fast enough.

"The horse has got to learn to drop the bridle a bit. We're going to have to find a way of doing this."

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