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Last Updated: 01/11/13 5:24pm
Jezki: Smooth return to action
Tony McCoy moved to within eight victories of the magic 4,000-winner mark over jumps when Jezki made a smooth return to the track at Down Royal.
The 18-times champion jockey was out of luck on the first of two rides at the Northern Ireland circuit, but made no mistake in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle over two miles.
His task was, however, made pretty easy as Jezki proved a most willing ally.
Jessica Harrington's five-year-old, owned by JP McManus, was a three-times Grade One scorer last season and carried on the good work here.
With no-one keen to make the running, it was left to McCoy to cautiously take the initiative aboard the 2/9 favourite. It might not have been an ideal scenario, but Jezki jumped with typical efficiency from the outset. But such was the soporific early pace, it was no surprise to see most of the runners tightly bunched with two flights remaining.
Flaxen Flare even jumped the penultimate hurdle in unison with McCoy's partner, but Harrington's inmate soon blunted that rival's challenge along the home straight.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Caid Du Berlais then charged into contention, but he had no match for Jezki's finishing kick and was comprehensively defeated.
McCoy said: "He's a very smart horse and it's nice to have a horse to have plans with. It was a good start in a muddling race and I was always happy with him."
Harrington said: "I'm absolutely delighted to get that out of the way. There was no pace and he had to do his own donkey work. He did it without much effort and he settled very well. He's grown up and Tony rode him out with hands and heels.
"The Morgiana Hurdle (Punchestown, November 17) is definitely an option because he needs match practice if he is going to take on Hurricane Fly and Our Conor.
"It was his first run of the season so he's bound to improve. He'll improve purely in a fast-run race. He answered every call."
Sky Bet reacted by cutting the winner by two points into 8/1 for the StanJames Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
It was an especially good day for the County Kildare handler as stablemate Gambling Girl (11/4) overcame a final-flight gaffe to claim Grade Three honours in the EBF Lough Construction Ltd Mares Novice Hurdle.
Harrington said: "I think she could be special. She made a bad mistake and went away again. She went long at the last and when she recovered, she went away from the second.
"She did a couple of very good pieces of work and she is a big mare so she'll only improve. The owners bred her so now she has got them black type."