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Triumph Hurdle favourite Zanahiyr passes Christmas test with flying colours 2020-12-27

Sunday, 2020, December 27
Zanahiyr: a ready winner of the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Mark Boylan

Zanahiyr cemented his position as Ireland's premier three-year-old hurdler with a stylish success in the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, earning glowing praise from winning rider Jack Kennedy after a display that showcased his versatility and slick jumping.

The Aga Khan-bred Zanahiyr (1/2f) completed a hat-trick of wins when taking the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle. The three-year-old quickened away from the opposition in the closing straight under Jack Kennedy.

The Noel and Valerie Moran-owned performer hardened as favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, now priced between 7-4 and 100-30 (from a general 7-2), and further strengthened Gordon Elliott's grip on the division, proving his adaptability to a significantly slower pace than previously when winning in Grade 3 company at Fairyhouse.

Clock-watchers were bowled over by his 14-length win last month when he quickened up impressively off a fast pace, and his six rivals on this occasion appeared intent on testing his gears with a much less demanding gallop.

Kennedy always had the former 1m4f maiden winner in the right position, with his mount answering every call and producing a particularly awesome leap at the second-last.

The Aga Khan-bred gelding never had to be at full stretch to keep Joseph O'Brien-trained French recruit Busselton at bay by three and three-quarter lengths, with that rival and the third-placed Ha D'or shaping promisingly in defeat on their Irish introductions.

"It was a great performance from him," said Kennedy. "It was a completely opposite race to the last day at Fairyhouse – we went very steady and he still won so it just shows that he can do it any way."

He added: "He only did what he had to do today – we're delighted with him. I think [stablemate] Quilixios is very good, but this horse might edge it over him."

Zanahiyr is not quoted in ante-post markets for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but it would be interesting if connections opted to take on older rivals in the festival curtain-raiser, getting an 8lb age allowance, while others from the stable, like Quilixios, could tackle the Triumph.

Elliott and Kennedy registered a double on the card at Leopardstown, also tasting success with the useful Wide Receiver to win the previous 2m maiden hurdle for Gigginstown House Stud.

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