Hurricane Fly continued his Leopardstown love affair on Sunday as he maintained his unbeaten record at the Dublin racetrack in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, but connections of his vanquished rivals have taken positives from the performances of their respective charges.
Hughes has confidence in Conor
Dessie Hughes expects Our Conor to head to the Cheltenham Festival with a "fighting chance" of claiming Champion Hurdle glory after making Hurricane Fly pull out all the stops.
Last year's devastating Triumph Hurdle winner was firmly put in his place by Willie Mullins' superstar in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival, but improved significantly for the run and for a brief moment looked set to dethrone the champion on Sunday. However, Hurricane Fly roared back on the run-in to secure his fourth successive Irish Champion Hurdle crown and his 19th Grade One in all.
Having got significantly closer to the winner than he had done a month earlier, Hughes can see no reason why Our Conor could not get the better of the dual Champion Hurdle hero when they meet for a third time at Prestbury Park in March.
Hughes said: "He's come out of the race absolutely fine and I'm very happy with where we are with the horse.
"We were a bit disappointed as it looked as though he might have it won at one stage, but I'm thrilled he improved, which I thought he would.
"He's just a bit young and for a five-year-old to do that, I think was a tremendous performance.
"He was nearly the last horse off the bridle which was a fantastic feat in itself beside that horse (Hurricane Fly).
"For three or four strides after the last I thought we had him but the other old boy just wore him down.
"Being a young horse, he should improve and I think Cheltenham improved him last year; he was definitely a stone better horse last year at Cheltenham.
"He appeared to love the track (at Cheltenham) and he's definitely a better horse on better ground.
"All in all, I think we'll be going to Cheltenham more optimistic than pessimistic and he must go there with a fighting chance."
"I think Cheltenham improved him last year; he was definitely a stone better horse last year at Cheltenham" - Trainer Dessie Hughes on Our Conor
Jezki chances compromised by running with choke out
Jessica Harrington believes Jezki ran far too free to do himself justice when finishing a close-up last of four.
The four-times Grade One winner was second behind Hurricane Fly in the Ryanair and having encountered some trouble in running, connections were optimistic of at least getting closer this time round.
However, the six-year-old pulled for his head for much of the two-mile journey in the hands of Tony McCoy and his exertions clearly took their toll late on.
Jezki was still only beaten a little over three lengths and Harrington is happy to let her charge line up in the Champion Hurdle.
Harrington said: "He's come out of the race absolutely fine. There's not a bother on him.
"We decided to drop him in, that was the plan and he just ran too free and too keen.
"I was very happy with the way he jumped, I thought he jumped very well, but you can't run as keen as that in a race like that.
"He still wasn't beaten far and all being well he'll be there at Cheltenham in March."
Harty considering option following Captain’s fantastic run
Trainer Eddie Harty is unsure where Captain Cee Bee will turn up next following the veteran's excellent run in defeat.
It is almost six years since the dual Grade One winner enjoyed Cheltenham Festival glory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and at the age of 13, it is fair to assume his peak years are behind him.
That said, he performed with huge credit to finish third in Sunday's feature event, beaten less than three lengths by Hurricane Fly having cut out the running, leaving his trainer rightly proud of his teenager's efforts.
Harty said: "It was a great run and it's hard to know where we'll go with him now, as he's not in the Champion Hurdle.
"Hopefully the handicapper won't do too much to him. Hopefully there is the option of going for a handicap if we want to go down that road.
"He's not going to be winning a Grade One now I don't think, but he is a 13-year-old and he is obviously still capable of running good races.
"He's not going to be running every day of the week at his age, so we'll scour the programme book and see where we go with him."