Apple’s Jade is “more than likely” to try to regain her crown in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 12.
Gordon Elliott’s charge lifted the Grade One in 2017, but was only third last year behind the Willie Mullins-trained Benie Des Dieux, who is also among the 30 entries.
Apple’s Jade has been at the top of her game so far this season, winning each of her three starts, culminating in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
“Apple’s Jade is in good form,” said Elliott.
“She runs next in the Irish Champion Hurdle. She will do a bit of work next week and, all being well, that is her next target.
“She is a very good mare who does her best work on the track.
“Apple’s Jade is more than likely to go for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, a race she has won before.
“She has an entry in the Champion Hurdle, but I think it will be very doubtful that she will go there.”
Elliott also has Lackaneen Leader, Missy Tata and Tintangle.
Mullins, who has won this race eight times, has a six-strong team that includes Laurina, although she is currently being aimed at the Unibet Champion Hurdle. The 2017 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle third Limini and Leopardstown Grade Three scorer Good Thyne Tara are also engaged.
The home challenge features Phil Kirby’s prolific hurdle and chase winner Lady Buttons, Roksana from Dan Skelton’s stable, the Stuart Edmunds-trained Queenohearts and Alan King’s Mia’s Storm.