Brilliant Apple’s Jade Lays Down Champion Hurdle Marker

Going into the action this weekend at Leopardstown, it was assumed that Apple’s Jade would run in the Irish Champion Hurdle as a prep run for the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. However, after impressing so much over the two mile trip the yard and owner Michael O’Leary have decided that she will instead go for the big one, the Champion Hurdle.

This is something that fans of the sport have been hoping would happen for a long time, and after the race on Saturday there was many calls on social media for her to skip the easier task of running in the Mares Hurdle, and instead go up against the boys. She gets a 7lb allowance as a mare, which puts the weights greatly in her favour, she would surely go close in the race off level weights.

If things go to plan for the star mare from the Willie Mullins yard then she will be joined in the Champion Hurdle by Laurina, who will also get the 7lb allowance off the rest of the field. Both mares are exceptional, and both are expected to run very well.

The inclusion of a Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival was initially welcomes by trainers, owners and fans of the sport. However, as we have seen in the past with Quevega, this race does take the mares away from the big championship races, and detracts from them and the clashes we could have witnessed. This year looks to be different, and instead of wondering what would have happened had Apple’s Jade and Laurina ran in the Champion Hurdle, we are going to find out.

Although she usually runs over two and a half miles, and sometimes three miles, Apple’s Jade looked at home over the shorter trip of two miles, making her own running and making the race the test she needed. She was well clear of some impressive rivals, and was only going further away at the finish. She is going to add an intriguing element to the feature race on day one of the festival, and goes to the race with every chance of upsetting the two time champion Buveur D’Air.

The festival is full of mouth-watering races, but the Champion Hurdle on day one just got a whole lot more interesting this weekend.