Last season’s leading juvenile hurdler Apple’s Jade will be aimed at the Champion Hurdle by new trainer Gordon Elliot, after leaving the yard of Willie Mullins after the dispute with owners Gigginstown House Stud.
In her five career starts the only defeat for the four-year-old came when she finished a gallant second to Ivanovich Gorbatov – but she quickly turned the tables on that rival scoring by a staggering 41-lengths in a rematch at the Aintree Grand National Festival.
That performance and her subsequent victory at the Punchestown Festival, have left Elliot confident that his new filly is ready to take on the best of the best in the Stan James Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Mullins has monopolised the Champion Hurdle, winning four of the previous six renewals with Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Annie Power. But now the biggest threat to his crown could be one of his former stars.
Elliot was full of praise for his newest recruit saying:
“She is an amazing horse to get into the yard. She looks so exciting. I have never had a proper Champion Hurdle hope before. With Identity Thief going chasing, I would imagine Apple’s Jade will be aimed at the Champion Hurdle.
“Of all the Gigginstown horses that were coming out of Willie’s, Apple’s Jade was probably the one I wanted most along with Blow By Blow.” (Racing Post)
Dual Cheltenham Festival winner ready for first start under Gordon Elliot
Elliot also offered an update on another ex-Mullins star as dual Cheltenham Festival winner Don Poli prepares for what is sure to be a successful season.
The seven-year-old took the Martin Pipe Hurdle at the 2014 National Hunt Festival, before scoring again at Prestbury Park in 2015 taking the RSA Chase in style.
During another campaign at the top-level in 2016, Don Poli finished third in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, second in the Betfred Bowl and third in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
Now Elliot has confirmed that his latest recruit will go for more Grade One glory in the JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal in November, saying:
“With things still uncertain surrounding Don Cossack – although everything has gone great so far.
“I was hoping I might get another top staying chaser in the Gigginstown reshuffle so I was thrilled to get Don Poli. His form speaks for itself and he will run in the Grade 1 at Down Royal next month.” (Racing Post)
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