Gordon Elliott isn’t tempted to run Apple’s Jade against the boys in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
The Gigginstown House-owned star is a multiple Grade One scorer and will instead be aiming to regain her crown in the Mares’ Hurdle in the Cotswolds. Apple’s Jade won the Mares’ contest in 2017 but could finish only third last season as Benie Des Dieux scored for Willie Mullins.
Apple’s Jade endured a tough spring, with poor efforts at Cheltenham and Punchestown coming when she was in season. She has bounced right back this term, winning all three starts, including top-level successes in the Hatton’s Grade and Christmas Hurdle.
The latest of those came over three miles at Leopardstown and while she’ll drop to two miles for the Irish Champion Hurdle next month back at the Foxrock track, taking on the best two-milers around in March is unlikely.
“Apple’s Jade is in good form,” said Elliott. “She runs next in the Irish Champion Hurdle. She will do a bit of work next week and, all being well, that is her next target.
“She is a very good mare who does her best work on the track. Apple’s Jade is more than likely to go for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, a race she has won before.
“She has an entry in the Champion Hurdle but I think it will be very doubtful that she will go there.”
Apple’s Jade is the favourite at 2.25 to reclaim her Mares’ Hurdle crown while she can be backed at 13.00 to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.