Apple's Jade all set for Punchestown Festival

Champion Stayers Hurdle among the options for superstar mare

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Apple’s Jade is on course to head for the Punchestown Festival where she will have three options.

The brilliant mare disappointed badly when a narrow favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, but bounced back to something like her true form when narrowly beaten in a three-way photo at Aintree last week.

She had looked nearly unbeatable earlier in the season, winning four races by an aggregate of 73 lengths.

“I wouldn’t say Apple’s Jade was at her best at Aintree, but she still ran very well to finish a close third in a Grade One,” said trainer Gordon Elliott.

“She’s come out of the race in good shape and the plan is to head to Punchestown. She’s got three Grade One entries over a range of trips and we’ll just see how she is closer to the time before making a decision what race to head for.

“She didn’t match the level of form she showed earlier in the season, but it was still a major improvement on Cheltenham and hopefully we will have her at her best for her final race of the season.”

Apple’s Jade is one of 26 in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle on the third day of the Festival, along with stablemate Samcro – who also has other options.

Willie Mullins is responsible for 12 and they include Laurina, Benie Des Dieux, Faugheen, Melon and Footpad.

Former winner Unowhatimeanharry is one of four British-trained entries along with Aux Ptits Soins, Agrapart and Colin Tizzard’s Vision Des Flos.

“We were going to take Vision Des Flos to Ayr and then we thought it would be better ground at Punchestown, so we’re going there to try him over three miles,” said Tizzard.

“We’ve had some very good springs recently – going from Aintree on to Punchestown – so we’re looking to bring over whatever we can to this meeting.

“We’ve always thought quite a bit of Vision Des Flos and we are looking forward to trying this trip with him. He has some good form at Punchestown.”

Also on Thursday is the Ryanair Novice Chase over two miles.

Mullins’ Arkle winner Duc De Genievres, Philip Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil, Aidan Howard’s Winter Escape and Henry de Bromhead’s two Aintree winners – Moon Over Germany and Ornua – are among 22 possibles.

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