Apple’s Jade, runner-up at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016, suffered a surprise defeat on her seasonal reappearance in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle at Down Royal.
After finishing second to Ivanovich Gorbatov in the JCB Triumph Hurdle on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day in March, the four-year-old filly destroyed her rivals by 41-legths at Aintree, before bolting-up again at Punchestown.
After the Gigginstown House Stud split from trainer Willie Mullins, Apple’s Jade was transferred to the yard of Gordon Elliot; with the Champion Hurdle earmarked as a long-term target.
On her stable debut for Elliot, the leading juvenile of last season was sent off as the odds-on favourite for what seemed like a relative penalty kick. Ruby Walsh attempted to make-all setting a nice pace, but as the runners turned into the home-straight Colin Kidd’s Rashaan made eye-catching progress.
The pair locked horns going towards the last flight and while the favourite jumped well, it was Rashaan who came away quickest and got up to win by a-length-and-a-half.
Champion Hurdle Bid Ruled Out For Apple’s Jade
After the shock result, Elliot was quick to rule out any tilt at the Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival 2017, saying: “I’m disappointed, but the positive is we haven’t had her that long. I know she’ll come on from the run, but she’ll not be winning any Champion Hurdle, that’s one thing I will tell you.
“She did jump well, she just looked slow. If you look at those Triumph Hurdle horses over the years, they do want a trip.
“We’ll step her up in trip and she’ll win loads of races.”
But the connections of the winner were thrilled, jockey Sean Flanagan saying: “Colin holds this lad in high regard and when he was running as a juvenile he was running into the likes of Footpad.
“We knew the favourite was going to be hard to beat, but we hoped we’d give her a run for her money and it paid off.”
Cheltenham Racecourse Corporate Hospitality Packages on Sale
Eventmasters are delighted to provide official corporate hospitality packages for all meetings at Cheltenham Racecourse during the 2016/17 National Hunt Season.
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