Apple's Jade all set for Down Royal return
Dual Grade 1 winner Apple's Jade makes her first start for Gordon Elliott at Down Royal on Friday as she steps out on a path signposted Cheltenham and the Champion Hurdle in March.
Already a general 8-1 shot for the Stan James-backed Champion having created a massive impression by slamming Grade 1 rivals at the Aintree and Punchestown spring festivals, Apple's Jade faces just three rivals in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle (1.50).
Formerly trained by Willie Mullins, Apple's Jade will be bidding to provide owners Gigginstown House Stud, who removed 60 horses from the champion trainer in September, back-to-back victories in Friday's race following Identity Thief's success 12 months ago.
Identity Thief's trainer Henry de Bromhead looks like posing the biggest threat to the favourite, as fellow Gigginstown-owned Petit Mouchoir has his final start over hurdles before tackling fences this season.
Apple's Jade working well
Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O'Leary said: "Both horses are ready to take each other on and the ground should be okay for them.
"Gordon Elliott said that Apple's Jade worked very well during the week and she is ready to start off. As for Petit Mouchoir, this is his last start over hurdles and he will be going chasing afterwards.”
"He has taken a hold in the past before and we will see if he settles. Henry de Bromhead is happy with him as well."
Of those not wearing the maroon and white of Gigginstown, Rashaan and My Manekineko complete the quartet.
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