Bacardys inflicted a shock defeat on star mare Apple’s Jade in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.
Having claimed this Grade Two prize in each of the past two seasons en route to victory in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse, Apple’s Jade was a prohibitively priced 1-4 favourite to complete the hat-trick – despite failing to run up to her best during the spring.
Ridden by Robbie Power for the first time, the 10-time Grade One winner went straight to the lead, but repeatedly jumped out to her right and could never shake off Magic Of Light – who was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind Tiger Roll in the Grand National at Aintree.
That pair rounded the home turn together, while in their slipstream was the Willie Mullins-trained Bacardys under a confident-looking Paul Townend.
It was clear halfway up the straight that Apple’s Jade was struggling to hold on to her crown, and 100-30 chance Bacardys ultimately eased clear for a nine-and-a-half-length success.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “He deserved that – it’s his first win since I won on him at Punchestown a couple of years ago.
“He looked fantastic in the parade ring beforehand. Myself and Willie had a bit of an argument about three weeks ago, because he wanted to school him over fences and I was saying he should stay over hurdles. We won one argument with him, which is unusual!
“He ran very well in the spring in those staying hurdles, but was always coming off a bad chasing preparation.
“Hopefully now, with a full season over hurdles, he can be competitive in the Stayers Hurdle’ at Cheltenham and Punchestown.
“He’ll probably go for the Hatton’s Grace now and then the three-mile hurdle in Leopardstown at Christmas.”
Elliott was not making any excuses for Apple’s Jade – who now has something to prove, having also failed to fire in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, in the Aintree Hurdle and at Punchestown at the end of last season.
He said: “We scoped her, and she was clean. The vets examined her, and she was grand.
“Puppy (Power) said she never showed any zest at all. She’s had four hard years now, and we’ll see how she is.
“She was second in a Grade Two and she runs her heart out every day. It’s disappointing she didn’t win, but she’s not a machine.
“I’ll talk to Michael and Eddie (O’Leary), but she’s been a horse of a lifetime and she doesn’t owe us anything.”