“He jumped brilliantly,” said Jezki’s trainer Jessica Harrington. “He’s an amazing horse to have and I’m pleased for Mark (Walsh), who gave the horse a brilliant ride. It’s very special, Punchestown is my local track.
“It was a re-route coming here. We thought we’d try something new and the family all stay well. The race at Cheltenham was run at a slow pace, Ruby (Walsh) dictated things and it didn’t work out for us. But Jezki has now won two Grade 1s this season so you couldn’t say it had been disappointing. I don’t know what trip he’ll run over next season, it’s a long way off. But none of that family jumps fences very well so I think he’ll be sticking to hurdles.”
Jockey Mark Walsh added: “Jezki travelled too well. He settled lovely early on but got a little bit lit up coming up here [away from stands] first time. He was in my hands for a whole circuit and must be some horse to win. I was trying to get him to drop and drop it, but he wouldn’t and it just shows his class has got him through.
“It was his first time over three miles and he has ground it out and won well. I was worried he might not get home but he kicked on and stayed all the way to the line. He’s won at the Festival here for the last three years and I hope he’ll be coming back here for a long time.”
Successful owner J P McManus said: “It is nice to beat the Hurricane, but he is such a marvellous horse having won all those Grade Ones. He has been the best hurdler for a long time. It is great to beat him and even though it is over three miles it’s still great. He owed us one!
“The fact Jezki won today tells us he definitely gets three miles, which we thought he would because he won the Hatton’s Grace over two and a half miles a year and a half ago. I didn’t think stamina would be his problem, I thought Hurricane Fly would be his problem.
“Faugheen is a very good Champion Hurdle winner and we went for the easier option by coming for this race, even though we still had Hurricane Fly to take care of.
“Faugheen beat us convincingly at Cheltenham and sometimes I get a bit worried when horses get beat a few times because it can knock their confidence. They need a win and I think the win at Aintree gave Jezki a lift. He looked in peak condition for the end of the season and Jessie has done a great job.”
Trainer Willie Mullins said of Hurricane Fly: “Hurricane Fly was probably not as fluent down the back as Jezki and I think that is where the race was won.
“They both turned for home with a chance but it was Jezki’s turn today.”
There was a fabulous finish to the FBD Cross Country Chase for the La Touche Club when Patrick Mullins got up the 14-year-old Uncle Junior (6/1) to beat Quantitativeeasing (13/8 favourite), ridden by Nina Carberry, in the 4m 1f contest by a neck.
“He’s a hero of a horse,” said Mullins. “He’s a real character and a grumpy old man at home. My mother came out of retirement to start riding him out this year and I think that has really rejuvenated his enthusiasm for the game. She deserves a lot of credit. She has been letting him win his work and that has given him confidence.
“I thought coming into the race that he was in better form this year but I tried to keep it all low-key. He was one of my first winners and it’s amazing that he’s still here winning at Punchetsown. Imagine how good he’s going to be next year!
“He has been second to Balthazar King at Cheltenham’s November meeting for the last two years. He ran to a rating of 149 six months ago and there are not many 13 years olds that can do that.
“I knew he would gallop to the line whereas Quantitativeeasing can be a weak finisher. I was surprised he came with me as far as he did. I didn’t really get the jump I wanted at the last but you can’t force Uncle Junior into a long one. He knows what he wants to do at this stage of his life, so I left him alone because I knew he would stay on to the line.
“I love him to bits and he tries his hardest. He is a bit of grumpy old man at home but once he gets to the racetrack, he knows the aim of the game.”
A gamble was landed in the opening Murray Spelman Handicap Hurdle when Bog War, backed from 6/1 in the morning down to 5/2 favouritism, got up to score by a head under 5lb claimer David Mullins, despite a mistake at the last.
Trainer Liam Cusack commented: “We sneaked in at the bottom of the weights and I would have normally have given him a bit more time between races. But he didn’t have a hard race last time and he was going well at home. David’s claim was a huge advantage. We might think about going to Galway and he could have a run on the Flat.”
David Mullins added: “Bog War is a real two-mile hurdler. He is quick and clever over his hurdles and he travels. The bit of cut in the ground has suited him better than the ground [at Fairyhouse] last week.”
Jacksonslady (10/1) will eventually be retired to the paddocks after carrying J P McManus’s colours to victory in the Three.ie Handicap Chase.
“She’ll be going to stud at some stage and I’m delighted by that win. She’d been going great at home and this is her ground. She’s a real battler,” said trainer Philip Dempsey.
Jockey Mark Walsh commented: “Jacksonslady was on her head a bit early on because they went such a quick gallop. She is such a good jumper though and jumped her way into it at the three down the back.
“I got there a mile too soon going into the straight and she made a mistake at the second last. When I got after her after that, she winged the last and galloped on all the way to the line.”