CLASSY JADE’S A TRUE JEWEL
Star attraction can be the Apple’s of Elliott’s eye
THE returning Apple’s Jade could head another good day at Navan for Gordon Elliott by landing the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle.
The trainer’s star mare is likely to be at her most vulnerable on her first run of the season and a couple of her rivals have an edge in terms of fitness.
However, she should still need plenty of beating as the best of her form does put her some way ahead of these rivals.
Last season, Apple’s Jade turned in some cracking efforts headed by that memorable Cheltenham victory over Min and Vroum Vroum Mag.
She went on to trounce some quality mares in a Punchestown Grade 1, while her earlier efforts included a Hatton’s Grace Hurdle triumph.
On that form she sets a high standard and she can overcome her lack of a recent run to see off the Jer’s Girl.
That one won a Flat maiden at Roscommon in September and then ran a respectable fourth to Jezki at Tipperary later that week.
Gavin Cromwell’s charge is a quality sort at her best and she looks a stronger challenger than Monksland, who recently won a conditions hurdle at Thurles.
Elliott (inset) could also pick up the Grade 3 For Auction Novice Hurdle with Mengli Khan.
This four-year-old showed up nicely in two starts over hurdles last season and he returned to action with a stylish victory at this track seven weeks ago. He was a shade keen on that occasion, but will hopefully settle better this time and he does appeal as one that could do very well over hurdles this term.
A likely danger is Stratum who looked another nice prospect for Willie Mullins when he won a Galway maiden hurdle.
He was returning from an 11month break on that occasion and it was his first outing over hurdles so there will be more to come from him.
In the Grade 2 Fortria Chase, Alisier D’Irlande makes most appeal on his first start of the season.
This free-wheeling gelding is one that can give his supporters the odd anxious moment, but this looks a perfect race for him. If he can dominate his rivals from an early stage, he is quite likely to gallop them into the ground.
An interesting beginners chase could go to Footpad, who is an exciting recruit to fences for this season. Formerly a Grade 1 winner in France, the Willie Mullins gelding turned in some cracking efforts last term. These included a fourth in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and a fine third in a top-class staying hurdle at Punchestown.
Even though he lacks a run and previous chasing experience he could just have too much for Brelade who has been second on his first two runs over fences.
ODDS ON FAVOURITE Apple’s Jade is difficult to oppose on seasonal debut at Navan today