Grade 1-winning mares clash as Apple's Jade returns in Lismullen


Lismullen Hurdle (Grade 2) | 4yo+ | 2m4f | ATR

Apple's Jade is the headline act at Navan on Sunday when the five-time Grade 1 winner makes her seasonal debut.

Gigginstown House Stud's star mare will face a maximum of four rivals – including her stablemate Duca De Thaix, who ran at Naas yesterday – and trainer Gordon Elliott reports her in "good order " for her return to action.

He said: "Apple's Jade worked well on Thursday. We're happy with her and she's ready to roll. She was beaten on her first two starts last season but she went to notch with a hat-trick of Grade 1 wins. So we're hoping she can kick off with a win this time."

Apple's Jade last ran at the Punchestown festival in April when she beat Airlie Beach by 14 lengths in the Grade 1 Mares Champion Hurdle. That win followed victories in two other Grade 1s – the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and OLBG Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Jack Kennedy partners Apple's Jade for only the second time, having been aboard when narrowly denied in the Fighting Fifth last year, while Elliott is also represented by Flaxen Flare who will be running for the first time since May.

"He's well but will come on for the run having been off a long time," Elliott said.

Jer's Girl is the other Grade 1 winner in the race having twice scored at that level as a novice. Fourth behind Jezki in the Istabraq Hurdle at Tipperary on her most recent start, she will be going back up in trip and trainer Gavin Cromwell believes the longer distance will suit the five-year-old.

He said: "She's in very good form and I think two and a half miles is probably her ideal trip. Apple's Jade is very good and will be difficult to beat but we're getting 7lb from her so we're looking forward to a good run."

Monksland, runner-up in the race two years ago and a recent winner at Thurles, represents the in-form Noel Meade stable.