As head-to-head contests go this Christmas, few in racing can match the anticipation felt ahead of the upcoming Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown (13:25).
The Grade 1 affair pits dual Champion Hurdle winning hero Hurricane Fly against reigning 2m king, Jezki, in a race that re-ignites one of the sport’s most fascinating rivalries.
Willie Mullins’ Fly currently enjoys a 3-2 advantage over his JP McManus-owned rival.
But which of the classy pair will prevail here?
The case for Hurricane Fly
Little introduction needs to be made for Mullins’ 10-year-old legend. Chasing a 21st Grade 1 win, The Fly heads to a track where he’s unbeaten in eight previous starts.
Of course, there were a few onlookers who were beginning to wonder whether Mullins’ charge was on the downgrade having trailed Jezki by 5l in last year’s Champion Hurdle (finishing fourth) before being beaten by the same rival again just a few weeks later at Punchestown.
However, like a true champion he’s fought back with last month’s Morgiana Hurdle victory over Jezki the perfect riposte to his critics.
Now they both head to Leopardstown for what promises to be another intriguing chapter in their personal battle.
The case for Jezki
Widely regarded as the speedier horse of the two, Jezki has gone on to show that his championship success at Prestbury Park was no fluke
The son of Milan went on to serve it up to his opponent in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle and at four-years younger is arguably approaching his peak.
And although he was beaten on his seasonal reappearance, trainer Jessica Harrington is confident that Jezki will benefit from the run.
She told the Racing Post: “I’m very happy with him. We’ve had a clear run since the Morgiana and you’d imagine he’d have improved for the run – hopefully he has.
“The ground drying out a bit will help him and hopefully it will dry out a bit more…they’re using fresh ground and that will suit”, she added.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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