Champion Hurdle winner and Cheltenham Festival stalwart Jezki has been retired at the age of 11.
The Jessica Harrington trained son of Milan won 16 of his 38 starts under rules and amassed win and place prize money totalling £968,358. Jezki, who carried the famous green and gold hooped colours of leading Irish owner JP McManus, appeared at five successive Cheltenham Festivals.
After finishing eighth in the 2012 Champion Bumper behind Champagne Fever, he found that rival only 1 1/2 lengths too good 12 months later when runner-up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Jezki rounded off his novice season with a Grade 1 win at Punchestown, but will long be remembered for his stellar campaign in the 2013/14 season. He won the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse before twice finishing behind the brilliant Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown.
Jezki the enjoyed his finest hour at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival when beating My Tent Or Yours, also owned by McManus, by a neck where he had Hurricane Fly back in fourth. I was there to witness that victory and the guts that Jezki displayed under Barry Geraghty will live long in the memory and made him one of my favourite horses of all time.
Geraghty Full of Praise
Geraghty, who got the ride after Sir Anthony McCoy chose My Tent Or Yours over Jezki, was quick to pay tribute tribute to his willing partner. He told At The Races: “He was brilliant, I had a great run on him over the years. I won the big novice hurdle at Punchestown on him one year and then obviously the Champion Hurdle when he beat My Tent Or Yours.
“He was around in a great age of two-mile hurdlers, like Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and My Tent. He was a brilliant horse. “He clashed with Hurricane Fly so many times. Jessie did a great job with him and he was a great second string for me to ride that year. “Even when he stepped up in trip he won an Aintree Hurdle, so it worked out well. While he wasn’t quite what he was the last couple of years I won on him at Leopardstown in March last year and he was brilliant that day. He he had such a great attitude and he was absolutely rapid over a hurdle.”
Ascot an Option for Awesome Altior
Trainer Nicky Henderson has revealed that four-time Cheltenham Festival winner Altior could make his seasonal reappearance in the 1965 Chase at Ascot on November 23 en route to a possible crack at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The inner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle (2016), Arkle Trophy (2017) and Queen Mother Champion Chase (2018/19), became jump racing’s world record holder when landing the Celebration Chase at Sandown for a third consecutive year at Sandown back in April.
He surpassed the record of 18 consecutive victories of legendary staying hurdler Big Buck’s and has won all but two of his 22 starts and scooped over £1.2 million in prize money. Thee Patricia Hugh owned son of Derby winner High Chaparral returned to action in the Tingle Creek at Sandown last season, but that race comes just 19 days before the King George this time around.
Although plans are still fluid, if he does go to Ascot then he could clash with course specialist Cyrname who is officially rated 1lb his superior – although why I don’t really know!
Henderson, who also revealed Altior had undergone a minor breathing operation recently, told the Racing Post: “All the horses are back in the yard after their summer breaks and everything is well; they’re looking great.
“We have just recauterised Altior’s palate for no other reason than precaution. It was done two weeks ago. “We’ve all got ideas where he’ll go, but we haven’t sat down and discussed it. It’s an important and very big decision, whether we abandon the Tingle Creek and possibly go to Ascot for the 1965 Chase with a view to the King George. “If you’re going for the King George, I think you have to go to Ascot. That’s the place you have to go to find out if he stays at all.”
Tailor-Made for King George Test
There is no doubt that Altior, who is yet to race beyond 2m 2f, will not get the 3m trip of the King George. He has been winning his races through sheer brilliance and guts and has become somewhat lazy in his run-style. Altior has always been at his strongest at the business end of affairs, finding plenty for pressure to power away after the last.
Three miles at a sharp track like Kempton looks tailor-made for the star of jumps racing and he is currently a top priced 7/2 with bet365 for the King George. At the age of nine, the time is now right for connections to allow Altior the chance to shine over further and prove himself one of the all time greats over various distances.
I think he could even stay the 3m 2f of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so let’s hope that he does win the King George and tempts connections to let him take his chances in chasing’s blue riband contest next March.