Would Apple’s Jade win the Champion Hurdle?

Apple's Jade wins the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse

Buveur D’Air cemented his position at the head of the Champion Hurdle market with an imperious victory in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on Saturday, demolishing with a very talented crop of hurdlers; including the reigning Supreme (Summerville Boy) and Ballymore (Samcro) Novices’ Hurdle winners. Nicky Henderson’s charge is now a best price evens money to become the first horse since the legendary Istabraq to land three successive renewals of the most prestigious hurdles race in National Hunt racing. Read more about last weekend’s action in our Cheltenham Clues page.

So where does Apple’s Jade feature?

After his defeat on Saturday, Samcro’s trainer Gordon Elliott reported that his six-year-old would need ‘a miracle” to reverse the form come March. But after all of the hype surrounding the aforementioned Samcro, could Elliott have had the Champion Hurdle winner already in his yard? Just over 24 hours after Buveur D’Air’s victory, Apple’s Jade became the first horse since fellow mare Solerina to win three renewals of the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, recording a career-best RPR of 163 in the process.

What do the ratings say about her chances?

When factoring in her seven pounds weight allowance, Apple’s Jade’s last RPR would suffice in an average renewal of the race. The only issue with that is Buveur D’Air recorded an RPR of 173 when scoring on Saturday, and as that was his first start of the season, he could have improvement still to come.

Official Rating at time of win RPR recorded when winning Highest RPR recorded prior to win
Hurricane Fly (2013) 172 173 173
Buveur D’Air (2018) 169 167 171
Faugheen 169 170 169
Hurricane Fly (2011) 167 171 169
Rock On Ruby 165 171 166
Jezki 165 171 165
Binocular 163 172 172
Punjabi 163 165 164
Annie Power 162 169* 171*
Buveur D’Air (2017) 157 170 159

*Includes seven pounds mares’ allowance


AVERAGE 165 170 168
Apple’s Jade 164 170*

*Includes seven pounds mares’ allowance


Does she have the speed to feature?

Apple’s Jade has not actually raced over shorter than 2m 4f since her shock defeat in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal back in November 2016. Coincidently, that was on her debut for Gordon Elliott having left Willie Mullins’ yard earlier that year. It is hard to believe that her proven stamina and high cruising speed would not be a real asset in the race, however, and in recent years, Hurricane Fly, Jezki, Faugheen and Annie Power all won over further than this trip in their campaign leading up to their respective Champion Hurdle victories.

So why are her connections reluctant to run?

On Monday, Gordon Elliott reiterated his desire to run Apple’s Jade in the race that she has the best chance of winning – which he stated was the Mares’ Hurdle – the race she was beaten in at odds of 1/2 last season. Whilst she would likely go off a short price once again, the temptation to go for a race that Gigginstown are keen to win – and with Samcro looking less and less likely to be in the shake-up come March – may cause her powerful connections to have a rethink about her eventual Cheltenham Festival target. If she were to take in the Champion, a clash with Buveur D’Air would whet the appetite of many a jumps fan.

Keep an eye on our horse racing tips section for any more clues in the coming weeks.

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