Bryan Cooper celebrates on Apple’s Jade at Cheltenham
PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES
FRESH from blitzing Willie Mullins’ two top mares at Cheltenham Apple’s Jade has Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air in her sights after being given clearance to tackle the Grade 1 Betway Aintree Hurdle next.
Paddy Power installed Apple’s Jade at 5-1 for the 2m4f test at Aintree on April 6, for which Buveur D’Air is their 10-11 favourite. The race could also be the next stop for beaten Champion Hurdle favourite Yanworth in a final hurdles appearance before he goes chasing.
Camping Ground, the 29-length winner of the National Spirit Hurdle, also lies in wait after trainer Gary Moore opted to skip Cheltenham to wait for Aintree in what promises to be an intriguing highlight of the opening day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
Apple’s Jade was too strong for the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O’Leary: “The race at Cheltenham had everything and I really think it was one of the races of the week – the first three home are three top-class mares.
“We will take in the two and a half mile race at Aintree next. She has come out of Cheltenham in good form and if she were to run well at Aintree, we could think about Punchestown as well for her.”
Asked whether he was surprised to see Apple’s Jade avenge a two-length defeat by Limini in the run-up to Cheltenham, O’Leary said: “No, Apple’s Jade never surprises me.
“She’s a very high-class mare and touch wood, if she can stay sound, we should have a lot of fun with her. The mares’ programme is excellent at present which is why we are investing in these quality race mares now.”
Aintree was the scene of one of Apple’s Jade’s most impressive performances when she beat Ivanovich Gorbatov in a Grade 1 last April, and Paddy Power spokesperson Paul Binfield saying: “Apple’s Jade has looked really good since stepping up to two and a half miles and we can see why Gordon [Elliott] is thinking of targeting Aintree again with her as she looked really good when winning there as a juvenile last year.”
Buveur D’Air was also a Grade 1 winner at Aintree last year and Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said the race was the plan for the Nicky Henderson-trained Champion Hurdle hero.
He said: “We’ll see how they come out of the race, but if they come out of it good I’m sure Buveur D’Air will be going there.”
Yanworth was beaten favourite in the Champion Hurdle and reflecting on his Cheltenham display in his Weekender column trainer Alan King said: “He lost a very good position at Cheltenham when he was outpaced down the hill, then ran on again. It looks as though he wants further and we’ll look at the two and a half mile and three mile races at Aintree.
“Longer term, I’d love to go chasing with him next season. He looks the sort who should make a cracking novice.”
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