By Josh Powell | Sports writer
The leading owner at the Cheltenham Festival JP McManus has his eyes set on purchasing the favourite for this year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Jezki, according to today’s Racing Post.
Jezki is trained by Jessica Harrington in Ireland and owned by Gerard McGrath. He is four from four over hurdles, showing plenty of ability over the sticks and the five-year-old gave punters plenty of festive cheer over Christmas, romping home to win the Future Champions Novice Hurdle by six lengths at odds of 11/8.
That impressive run meant that his price tumbled faster than Gareth Bale and Jezki is now the 4/1 favourite for the Cheltenham opener on March 12th. The horse, unbeaten over hurdles, is valued at around €500,000 and has only been beaten twice in his career.
JP McManus has won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle twice before with Like A Butterfly in 2002 and Captain Cee Bee five years ago.
The owner does more winning than Charlie Sheen when he’s at the Cheltenham Festival and has racked up 37 wins in his career. Synchronised’s Gold Cup win last year added to his two Supreme Novices’ Hurdle wins and his four Champion Hurdle victories.
One small worry for Jezki supporters would be his run at the course last year. Running in the Champion Bumper over the extended two miles Jezki finished eighth, 12 lengths behind the winner and travelled up the famous hill about as quickly as Johnny Vegas tackling a flight of stairs.
There’s no doubt that Jezki will have strengthened and matured in the last year and his form over the obstacles is very impressive. In less than nine weeks he’ll try to justify favouritism at Cheltenham and give punters a winning start to the festival.