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Wednesday March 12, 2014 MYT 12:57:01 AM
Wednesday March 12, 2014 MYT 12:58:10 AM
Ruby Walsh on Quevega celebrates after winning the Mares' Hurdle Race during the Cheltenham Festival horse racing meet in Gloucestershire, western England March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
(Reuters) - Irish trainer Jessica Harrington landed the prestigious Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival when the Barry Geraghty-ridden Jezki held off Tony McCoy and My Tent Or Yours in a one-two for owner JP McManus on Tuesday.
Jezki, a 9-1 chance, had just a neck to spare at the line as McCoy galvanised My Tent Or Yours (3-1) in a thrilling battle after the final fence.
The New One (100-30), who was hampered by the fall of Our Conor earlier in the race, finished fast to take third, ahead of favourite Hurricane Fly who had been seeking a hat-trick of Champion Hurdle crowns.
The Harrington-Geraghty partnership has enjoyed Cheltenham glory in the past with Moscow Flyer landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2003 and 2005.
"I have been riding winners for Jessie since I was 17 or 18 and she has been great to me over the years. She has given me plenty of good horses like Moscow Flyer," said Geraghty, winning the race for the second time after Punjabi in 2009, told BBC radio.
"It's brilliant to be back here for her again. The Champion Hurdle is one of the races in the year that you want to win. I had a great run around - he missed the third last, which was the only slight concern I had, but apart from that he was very good.
"He found plenty when I needed him to. The runner-up was getting to me - I needed the line."
Trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh, out of luck with Hurricane Fly, celebrated a double triumph as Quevega made history by winning for the sixth time at the Festival.
Quevega, who matched the Cheltenham record of Golden Miller - winner of five successive Gold Cups in the 1930s - when she picked up her fifth consecutive Mares' Hurdle last year, had to dig deep to land a sixth.
Stablemate Glens Melody had threatened to spoil the party but 8-11 favourite Quevega responded to Walsh's driving up the Cheltenham Hill to delight Mullins.
"I thought we were in the wrong position the whole race, but Ruby is a genius and obviously had a plan in his head," the trainer said.
"It was an absolute joy to see her put her head down and win and she has her own unique place in history. She's an absolute superstar."
Mullins and Walsh, the most successful Cheltenham Festival jockey of all time, had made a flying start to the four-day jumps racing showpiece when 7-2 joint favourite Vautour made all the running to win the opening Supreme Novices Hurdle.
The pair, however, were denied in a thrilling finish to the next race - the Arkle Chase - when 33-1 outsider Western Warhorse, ridden by Tom Scudamore, nailed well-backed joint-favourite Champagne Fever right on the line to win by a head.
(Writing by Justin Palmer, editing by Ed Osmond)
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