- Hurricane Bids for Three in a Row
- Champion Hurdler Jezki Kicks off Season
- Progressive Little King Robin Steps Up for Four Timer
The stage is set for a clash of hurdling champions as Jezki and Hurricane Fly remain in Sundays Grade 1 StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown following this morning’s forfeit deadline. A total of six horses will proceed to Friday’s declaration stage in potentially the most exciting race of the national hunt season so far and the highlight of the Punchestown Winter Festival, Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November.
In addition to the headline duo the emerging star and recent Downroyal winner Little King Robin is an intended runner at this stage. Speaking this morning trainer Colin Bowe said “She seems fit, healthy and fresh. She came out of the Downroyal race bouncing. That race was an opportunity to see what standard she was really at and if she hadn’t won there she would not be going near Sunday’s race…but she did win so she is entitled to run”.
Following much speculation about who will ride the reigning champion hurdler in Sunday’s €80,000 contest given that A.P. McCoy is currently out of action Frank Berry, commenting on behalf of owner J.P. McManus confirmed “If Barry Geraghty is not available Mark Walsh will ride Jezki in Sunday’sStanJames Morgiana”. Berry continued “We are very happy with the horse and looking forward to him running”.
Discussing Hurricane Fly’s preparation trainer Willie Mullins feels that his former champion hurdler may be further advanced than at this time last year “ He has been working well up to now and I think that he is at least as fit as this time last year but he’d want to be a bit fitter if Jezki turns up”.
Pat Shanahan trainer of King Of The Picts who is also in Sunday’s line up explained how the recent fourth place finish in Downroyal does not reflect the true ability he believes the horse has “King of the Picts would have been much closer in the race won by Little King Robin had the stirrup iron not broken which meant Andrew Lynch had to go for a mile with his feet out of the irons. This horse is a graded winner and has been placed in grade 1’s so he is entitled to have a crack at the Stanjames.com Morgiana”.
Rory Jiwani of StanJames.com said, “We’re delighted to see reigning StanJames Champion Hurdler Jezki and the great Hurricane Fly stand their ground for this Grade 1 contest. Jezki got the better of the old champion on their last two meetings but it is always dangerous to underestimate the Fly who is seeking a hat-trick of Morgiana wins”.
“It’s also great to have Little King Robin in the list of acceptors with Colin Bowe’s charge improving at a rate of knots. She has a fair claim to be one of the most popular mares in training after her incredibly game win at Down Royal last month to complete a four-timer.
“Currently, The New One is our 3/1 favourite for the StanJames Champion Hurdle with Faugheen 10/3 and Jezki 9/2 to retain his crown at Cheltenham in March.”
The Punchestown Winter Festival takes place Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November. Action on day one gets underway at 12.05 with eight races on offer. Admission is just €12 or €8 for seniors and students. The first of seven races on Sunday goes to post at 12.35 and admission is €15 or €10 for students and seniors. All under 14’s race for free at Punchestown.
The Ballymore Winter Fair will be available both days while the Diamonds and Pearls Style Competition takes place on Sunday.
For further information and ticket purchases please visit www.punchestown.com