Mares' route for brilliant Apple's
Gordon Elliott insists he will resist any temptation to aim the brilliant mare Apple's Jade at the Champion Hurdle come March.
The Gigginstown House-owned five-year-old gave arguably the best performance of her career on Sunday when she floored Stayers' Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon by nine lengths in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse for the second year running.
Apple's Jade made every yard of the running and had all the answers in the home straight under Jack Kennedy once Paul Townend and Nichols Canyon made their move.
Elliott mopped up all three Grade One contests on the Fairyhouse card, with Mengli Khan and Death Duty also obliging in the Gigginstown silks - the first time any trainer had managed that particular hat-trick.
A potential tilt at the Champion Hurdle, which Apple's Jade is 17.00 to win, was mentioned afterwards, but Elliott is adamant she'll defend her crown in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham, a race she is 2.50 to prevail in.
"She looked class, to be honest. We thought she was a lot stronger at home. She's like a bull and Jack gave her a great ride," Elliott told At The Races.
"I was always taught to win the race you can win, so the mares' race will be the one I'll go for, all being well.
"She's only five years of age and she's six Grade Ones won. She's a different mare at home this than she was last year. The way she kept pulling it out, you'd have to be nothing but impressed with her."
Apple's Jade is set to be given Christmas off, before having one run ahead of Cheltenham and then going to Punchestown. Elliott wants to protect her long-term interests.
"We will give her a bit of a break now and she might go back to Punchestown for the race she got beaten in last year (Quevega Mares Hurdle in February)," he added.
"The Mares' Hurdle (at Cheltenham) is the plan and then Punchestown (Festival). If we mind her we might get a few years out of her."
Limini, third last year, is 6.00 to win the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
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