The Gigginstown House Stud-owned Apple’s Jade, under Jack Kennedy, became the first mare to win the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown since Like A Butterfly as she gave a 16 length trouncing to the opposition on Day 1 of the 2019 Dublin Racing Festival at the South Co. Dublin track.
The star of Gordon Elliott’s stable took the lead as usual early doors before running the rest of the field into submission, with last year’s winner, Supasundae from Jessica Harrington’s yard, finishing second. Petit Mouchoir was third with Melon in fourth place.
The win, this time over 2 miles, is Apple’s Jade’s third Grade 1 victory of the season so far, incredibly all over different distances.
Bookmakers reacted quickly to the victory by cutting the 2017 Cheltenham Mares’ Hurdle winner to 7/4 favourite for the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle, over the 2 mile distance, in March.
Speaking after the win, Co. Meath-based trainer Elliott was non-committal as to the mare’s Cheltenham target, stating:
“We’ll get her home and we’ll discuss it with the owners. She’s entered and we won’t rule anything out. She’s in the Champion Hurdle, she’s in the Mares’ Hurdle and she’s in the Stayers’ Hurdle. She could run in any of them.”
The seven-year-old, winner of this season’s Hatton’s Grace (over two-and-a-half miles) and Christmas Hurdle (3m) prior to today, has now claimed 10 Grade 1 successes, winning over €700,000 in the process.