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Zenta books Cheltenham ticket despite a few scares

Zenta and Paul Townend Zenta and Paul Townend
© Photo Healy Racing

Zenta made a winning Irish debut in the Norman Colfer Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse but not before giving odds-on punters a few anxious moments in the straight.

Trained by Willie Mullins for JP McManus, the daughter of Pastorius was snapped up after winning a Listed hurdle at Auteuil last September and sent off the red-hot 4/9 favourite here against just four rivals.

Paul Townend ’s mount tracked the pacesetting Hypotenus before challenging early in the straight where the pair drew clear.

The hot-pot ploughed through the penultimate flight and wasn’t much better at the last but still kept on well when driven out by Townend on the run-in to score by three lengths.

There was a huge gap of 32 lengths back to the winner’s stablemate Jourdefete in third.

Mullins said, "She jumped super and then things just fell apart but I think she will improve. She's essentially a good jumper and it was just maybe being in front.

“She's a nice mare and I think she's going to improve. She'll head for the Triumph Hurdle, I'd imagine. If she just keeps her jumping together she's going to win lots of prizes.

“She's one we have been looking forward to. We sort of had to rush her preparation to get her ready for this but we felt she needed it if she was going to go across the water.

“She passed the test, she didn't pass it with flying colours but she passed it.”

Paddy Power and Betfair left the winner unchanged at 20/1 for the Triumph Hurdle.

Quotes by Gary Carson

About Alan Magee
Alan has worked in the racing industry for well over 30 years including with the Sporting Life, Turform and Irish Racing Services. He took up his current role as Irish Racing Team Leader with the Press Association in 2013. He has a keen interest in most sports and plays golf.