Gordon Elliott hailed Apple’s Jade as “the horse of a lifetime” after the curtain came down on her career at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned mare has won 11 Grade Ones during a stellar racing career, a tally which includes the 2017 Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and three consecutive renewals of the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse.
Following a handful of disappointing efforts, the eight-year-old returned to winning ways at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, but subsequently failed to fire in the Galmoy Hurdle and connections suggested the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle would be her swansong.
Having given a bold sight in front for much of the way under champion jockey Richard Johnson, Apple’s Jade faded into eighth place, after which her retirement was confirmed.
Elliott said: “She’s been the horse of lifetime – she’s 11 Grade Ones won.
“She’s going to go to stud now. We’ve been lucky to train her.
“She enjoyed herself today. The engine just isn’t as fast as it used to be.
“She owes us nothing”
Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary echoed Elliott’s sentiments.
He said: “Apple’s Jade has the been horse of a lifetime. She has been absolutely fantastic.
“No mare has ever won 11 Grade Ones. She is a very special mare.
“One of the most special days for me was when she won the 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in April, 2016, when she won by a record 41 lengths.
“She will be covered now and enjoy the retirement she deserves.
“She has just been an awesome mare. To beat the boys over two, two and a half and three miles is something very special – she was just fabulous.”
Apple’s Jade won 15 of her 28 races in all, earning £814,910 in win and place prize-money.
Having begun her career in France, she was originally trained by Willie Mullins in Ireland – winning two Grade Ones – before joining Elliott in the autumn of 2016.