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Dublin: 10 °C Sunday 17 February, 2019
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Apple's Jade 'very doubtful' to take a shot at Cheltenham Champion Hurdle

Gigginstown star’s next target will be the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown next month.

Jack Kennedy onboard Apple's Jade on his way to winning Apple's Jade: three bloodless victories this season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

APPLE’S JADE IS ‘very doubtful’ to take on the boys in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Michael O’Leary’s wondermare was among the 27 entries confirmed on Wednesday for the two-mile showpiece on the opening day of 2019 Festival.

But trainer Gordon Elliott confirmed that his star is unlikely to take up that particular assignment, with a bid for a second win in the Mares’ Hurdle the most obvious alternative.

“She’ll have an entry [in the Champion Hurdle], but I’d say it’ll be very doubtful,” Elliott said at the launch of the Dublin Racing Festival on Wednesday.

Elliott also confirmed that the seven-year-old — who has won her three races this season by a combined 57 lengths against classy fields — is being aimed at the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on 2 February. 

Henry De Bromhead, Joseph O'Brien, Jessica Harrington, Gordon Elliott and Noel Meade Elliott, second from right, was speaking at the launch of the Dublin Racing Festival. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Apple’s Jade is one of Elliott’s four entries in the initial declarations for the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in March alongside Samcro, Farclas and Tombstone, while Willie Mullins has five in Melon, Laurina, Sharjah, Cilaos Emery and Saldier.

Reigning champion and ante-post favourite Buveur d’Air leads the Nicky Henderson team as he bids to join elite company by winning the race for a third straight year — a feat not achieved since Istabraq in 1998-2000.

Brain Power, Charli Parcs, We Have A Dream, Call Me Lord and Verdana Blue complete Henderson’s squad of six.

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Niall Kelly

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