Apple's Jade set for Champion Hurdle after Leopardstown success

Jack Kennedy won the Irish Champion Hurdle on Apple's Jade on Saturday
Jack Kennedy won the Irish Champion Hurdle on Apple's Jade on Saturday

Trainer Gordon Elliott has given a strong indication that Apple's Jade is likely to run in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

This follows her startling win in the Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Festival at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Initial plans were to go for an alternative prize at Festival but Elliott said on Sunday "sleeping on it, we'd be mad not to give it a go".

"Nothing is concrete but I'd say it's likely (to be the Champion Hurdle)."

After Saturday's success in Ireland both Elliott and Eddie O'Leary, racing manager to his brother Michael's Gigginstown House Stud, indicated Apple's Jade was likely to stick to the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

However, having watched the race again, Elliott seems to be warming to the idea of a clash with dual champion Buveur D'Air, who completed his preparations with a trouble-free victory at Sandown on Saturday.

"Before yesterday I would have said that the Mares' Hurdle was the race to go for but she ran in the Mares' Hurdle last year and got beat," Elliott told Racing TV's Luck On Sunday programme.

"Talking about it last night and looking at the re-runs this morning - I'd prefer to get beat in a Champion Hurdle than a Mares' Hurdle.

"We'll all have a view but whatever Michael says will go. Speaking to him this morning, the mare is OK after the race yesterday, we'd be mad not to give it a go."

The Champion Hurdle takes place on 12 March, the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

"I watched Buveur D'Air this morning, he's obviously a very good horse who does what he has to do every day and is a horse I'd love to train but we'll take him on," added Elliott.

"Up until yesterday I would have been very nervous but to do what she did yesterday was very good, she loves a battle and I think Cheltenham suits her better than Leopardstown."