Smooth Navan return for Jezki

The Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki showed he retains plenty of zest for hurdling by defying a 632-day layoff to win at Navan on Saturday.

Jezki (L) pictured beating My Tent Or Yours in the Champion Hurdle

The 2014 Champion Hurdle hero, not seen since beating Hurricane Fly over three miles at Punchestown in April 2015, was easy to back on his return to competitive action but defied the market drift with a smooth victory over Renneti at odds of 11/8.

Rated 167 and in receipt of weight from Renneti and main market rival Tombstone, JP McManus's runner clearly had plenty in his favour in the Race Displays Event Signage Hurdle, but connections will be delighted with the performance ahead of a potential return to Cheltenham in March.

Barry Geraghty bided his time on the favourite as Alisier D'Irlande took them along in the two-mile contest and didn't produce the winner until the last, where a bold leap propelled him to the head of affairs before running on strongly in good style to score cosily by a length and three-quarters.

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Harrington said: "Barry said he took a blow going down the back and just blew up a bit after the second-last. He jumped super and you couldn't ask for any more.

"We had him kind of ready at Christmas and then he had a setback. Every time you go you are worried that you haven't done enough or too much or he hasn't got his spark still.

"He was very settled there and was really, really good. I'll have to talk with JP (McManus, owner) and Frank (Berry, owner's racing manager) to see where we go next.

"Most likely he will need another run so he could go for the Red Mills (Gowran). I think he gets in there with no penalties. I think on soft ground we would be better going two miles and not bottoming him out.

"He could still do a job over two miles but we know he stays three, so we have options. As long as he's sound in the morning that's the main thing."

Sky Bet reacted by cutting Jezki to 7/1 from 10/1 for the SunBets Stayers' Hurdle and 20/1 from 25s for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Festival.

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