Cheltenham Festival Bound Apple's Jade Cut For Mares' Hurdle After Faugheen Fall Hands Her A Ninth Grade 1 Win
Top class mare Apple's Jade recorded a phenomenal ninth Grade 1 victory as the Gordon Elliott-trained starlet propelled to a facile win in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on Friday afternoon in what was one of the more expected racing results of the day.
Apple's Jade was sent off the 8/13 favourite for the feature race of the day and was unsurprisingly sent to the front by Jack Kennedy as Elliott's charge looked to outclass former Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen, who returned to three miles.
Willie Mullins was hoping that Faugheen bounced back from a defeat in the Morgiana Hurdle and ridden by Ruby Walsh he stalked Apple's Jade for most of the contest, but as they got to the business end the complexion of the race changed massively.
Diving at the second last flight of hurdles, Faugheen crashed out and suffered a huge fall and it left Apple's Jade to ease clear and she is now available at 11/10 from 7/4 for the Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Worried faces were aplenty as Faugheen laid on the ground, but thankfully the top-class hurdler was only winded and rose to his feet and was walked back by a downbeat Walsh.
However, the race was all about Apple's Jade cementing her place as the premier mare in training, and while many fans want to see her try her luck in the Champion Hurdle it looks like she will look to avenge Benie Des Dieux for last year's Mares' Hurdle defeat and she is now a red-hot favourite to land the Mares crown at Prestbury Park.