Aintree 2015: Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle preview (15:25)
Jezki failed to live up to expectations in the defence of his Champion Hurdle crown, but can bounce back to land the 2m 4f Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle (14:25) now stepped up in trip on ground that he relishes.
Trained by Jessica Harrington, this gelding could finish only fourth when beaten 8 1/4 lengths by Faugheen in the 2m feature contest on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. He raced far too keenly in the early stages, however, and made a mistake at the last as those exerions took their toll.
The seven-year-old finished 6 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up Arctic Fire, but I fancy him to turn the tables now upped in trip and getting the good ground that he loves.
Jezki is 1-1 over 2m 4f, and should be able to settle better with the likes of Blue Heron and Rock On Ruby in the line-up who looks sure to set a decent gallop.
Although the son of Milan has failed to get his head in front this season, a return to the form which saw him beat My Tent Or Yours in the 2014 running of the Champion Hurdle before following up at Punchestown when easily getting the better of Hurricane Fly would make Jezki very hard to beat.
With AP McCoy in the saddle, I fancy him to do just that and get the better of Arctic Fire and Rock On Ruby to record a seventh Grade 1 success.
Arctic Fire has a progressive profile and, prior to his fine run in the Champion Hurdle, had finished four lengths in front of Jezki when second to Hurricane Fly in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leoparstown.
However, Jezki was allowed to come home in his own time when making a bad mistake at the last when upsides the eventually winner, and Arctic Fire was flattered by the result as he picked up the pieces late on.
To me, the Willie Mullins trained six-year-old needs a big field and break-neck gallop to be seen to best effect, and is also the type who needs everything to drop right to get his head in front.
I can’t envisage this race panning out in his favour, and for that reason Rock On Ruby may well prove to be the main danger to Jezki.
The 10-year-old, who won the Champion Hurdle in 2012, went down fighting by a head to The New One in this contest 12 months ago, and has looked as good as ever this season in winning two decent contests at Cheltenham.
Although forced to miss an intended crack at the World Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival after suffering a slight setback, it means that Rock On Ruby comes into this a fresh horse and the drying ground is massively in his favour.