Dual champion hurdler Jezki, the record breaking Hurricane Fly and Cheltenham festival winner Tiger Roll could meet in a thrilling seasonal debut in the Grade 1 StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday 16th November. A top drawer field of twelve have been entered for the feature of the Punchestown Winter Festival (Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November).
Looking forward to seeing Jezki return to the track where he claimed the Grade 1 Racing Post Champion Hurdle last May trainer Jessica Harrington said “Jezki did very well over the summer while at home in Martinstown and returned to us in great form. Pre-season training is going to plan and the aim is to get his campaign underway in the Stan James Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in two weeks time”.
The €80,000 Stan James sponsored contest could also see Faugheen graduate from novice company but a final decision will be made by trainer Willie Mullins closer to the time. Discussing his potential runners Mullins said “Faugheen really likes Punchestown and he will stay hurdling this season so he will need to run in this level of race. We will make a final decision closer to the time”.
The Champion trainer then focused on Hurricane Fly’s plans: “Hurricane Fly has won this race for the last two years so it’s a great starting point for him. I would say he is more forward than he was at this stage last year so preparations are on track for November 16th”.
Recent Punchestown winner Little King Robin is another mare who shows promise for the season. Her trainer Colin Bowe commented “We entered her simply because she is improving all the time and is entitled to hold an entry in this level of race. We are looking at options across the water also”.
Further enhancing the already impressive line-up will be Cheltenham Festival winner Tiger Roll, British raider Melodic Rendezvous, the Mags Mullins trained Princess Leya and Lethal Weapon from the Christy Roche stable. Three trainers who would be more familiar on the flat racing circuit than at the home of national hunt racing are also represented. Pat Shanahan has entered King Of The Picts, Curragh trainer Ken Condon’s Gerdago and Katie T from the Kevin Prendergast yard.
Rory Jiwani of sponsors StanJames.com said, “We’re delighted to see such a strong entry for the Morgiana and we could be in for a treat if Jezki, Hurricane Fly and Tiger Roll stand their ground. Melodic Rendezvous is an interesting British raider for Jeremy Scott having won the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial and Kingwell Trial.
“As there is a slight doubt over Jezki’s participation, we make Hurricane Fly our even money favourite for a third consecutive Morgiana Hurdle with Jessica Harrington’s Champion Hurdler next best at 5/4. Tiger Roll is 7/2 for Gordon Elliott with Melodic Rendezvous 6/1 and it’s 10/1 bar. Faugheen and Annie Power are among the 12 entries but Willie Mullins has said Hurricane Fly is his likely representative so we have not quoted his two stablemates.