LIMERICK owner JP McManus celebrated a stunning one-two in hurdle racing’s blue riband, the Stan James Champion Hurdle, on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Two of McManus’ three runners in the race fought out the finish of the two-mile contest with 9/1 shot Jezki and Barry Geraghty edging out the more fancied My tent or Yours ridden by Tony McCoy. Jezki had been ridden in his four previous starts this season by McCoy.
McManus is no stranger to champion hurdle glory with his famed green and gold colours carried to success in the race in the past through multiple winner Istabraq and most recently with Binocular, the 2010 champion.
Afterwards a delighted JP McManus said: “The National Hunt season centred around the Champion Hurdle for me because I didn’t have any Gold Cup horses and I’m unlikely to win the Grand National.
“The Champion Hurdle was all-important and full marks to everybody - Nicky (Henderson), Jessie (Harrington) and Eddie (Harty) to have their horses looking in mint condition as well as all the other runners in the race. They were all a credit. It’s a very special day.”
McManus was joined in the winners enclosure after the race by members of his family, including wife Noreen, daughter Sue Anne and son Kieran.
The race was tinged with sadness, however, as last year’s Triumph Hurdle hero Our Conor, trained by Dessie Hughes, had to be put down after a terrible fall at the third flight.