Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2014 00:32 | By Agence France-Presse

Geraghty benefits as McCoy opts for wrong one in Champion Hurdle

Irish runner Jezki gave jockey Barry Geraghty his second win and trainer Jessica Harrington her first in the Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.


Geraghty benefits as McCoy opts for wrong one in Champion Hurdle

A horse takes exercise in the morning sun on the third day of the Cheltenham horse racing festival in Gloucestershire, England on March 14, 2013 - by Andrew Yates

The six-year-old -- who Geraghty has never lost on in five rides -- won in a thrilling finish from My Tent Or Yours ridden by Tony McCoy, who had opted for the ride on the runner-up rather than the winner.

"He is a great little horse and his price (9/1) didn't reflect his chances in the race," said 34-year-old Geraghty, whose previous success came on Punjabi in 2009.

"It is always brilliant when you are on the right side of the result, he travelled really well and jumped really well. This is what it is all about as a jockey."

For Harrington it was her first win in the race having previously finished second and third.

"It's fantastic, it really is. It's great to be in this position," she said.

"He's a great favourite of mine. He's a great horse and Barry has a great record on him.

"I always had great faith in the horse. He's a smashing horse, he really is."

For owner JP McManus -- who along with another Irish racing giant John Magnoier was joint largest shareholder in Manchester United before a falling out with then manager Alex Ferguson -- became the first owner to have a 1-2 in the race.

However, his thoughts were elsewhere.

"It is a very very special day but I am thinking of Jonny Harrington (the trainer's husband who is seriously ill with cancer) sitting back watching this in Ireland, and we hope he will be at Cheltenham with us next year," said McManus.

"I feel sorry for AP McCoy because he rode him earlier in the season and taught us how Jezki should be ridden.

"This has been a very fortunate race for me and what can I say but that I am delighted.

"To be here with my family and to have the first two means everything, not least because this race has been the focus for me this season as I don't have a Gold Cup runner and I'm unlikely to win the Grand National," added McManus, who was winning a record fifth Champion Hurdle.     

The New One ran on brilliantly for third after being badly hampered by another fancied Irish runner Our Conor with six hurdles to jump.

Our Conor -- who was bought for 1million pounds after his Triumph Hurdle win at Cheltenham last year -- suffered a bad back injury and had to be put down by the course vet.

Two-time champion Hurricane Fly was prominent until just before the final hurdle when Ruby Walsh went for the whip and the 10-year-old found the younger horses too quick for him.

The 11/4 favourite -- winner in 2011 and 2013 -- eventually finished fourth.

"One defeat is not the end of the road in my opinion," said his trainer Willie Mullins, who has trained him to a world record 19 Grade One wins.

"We'll do what we normally do and go back to Leopardstown and regroup."

Mullins and Walsh -- who had combined to win the opener -- didn't have long to wait for compensation as Quevega made history in becoming the first horse to win the same race on six successive occasions at the Festival.

Walsh had to work hard to get the 10-year-old mare past her stablemate Glens Melody after the final hurdle to take the Mares Hurdle to tremendous roars from the stands to take the record she held previously with five-time Gold Cup winner Golden Miller.

"She's a great little mare, a right terrier," said Walsh, winning his 40th race at the Festival.

"To be part of history is great. In years to come when they ask who rode her the answer will be me."

Mullins was ecstatic.

"She's a superstar and history making you can't be happier. Thats as good as it gets," said the 57-year-old Irishman.

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