This time of year is always exciting for fans of jumps racing with the stars of the sport slowly making their first appearances and this is likely to continue this weekend with Apple's Jade entered up. The Gigginstown owned horse proved herself one of the most exciting in training last season and plenty are predicting a massive future.
Previously with Willie Mullins, the 4YO is now with Gordon Elliott as part of the Gigginstown trainer upheaval and all eyes will be on her if she runs in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal on Friday. She was beaten narrowly in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but bounced back to produce one of the most stunning victories of the season at Aintree.
Apple's Jade trounced the field at the Liverpool track to win the Anniversary 4YO Hurdle by a remarkable 41 lengths and as a result she has been towards the head of the Champion Hurdle betting for 2017 ever since.
At the time of writing, the Gigginstown filly is a best price 8/1 for the Champion Hurdle in March but that price could contract further if she impresses on seasonal debut.
History suggests she will struggle in open company with only one 5YO winner of the Champion Hurdle since 1985 but the initial comments from the trainer do suggest she will be trained with that race in mind. Her journey back to Cheltenham could begin on Friday at Down Royal with a potential re-match with old foe Ivanovich Gorbatov on the cards.
Ivanovich Gorbatov got the better of Apple's Jade at Cheltenham in the triumph Hurdle but the tables were turned on their next two starts with some cut in the ground at Aintree and Punchestown clearly playing into the strengths of the filly. How they both train on as 5YO horses will be fascinating to follow and provided they both line-up on Friday at Down Royal, we should be in for a great race.