Apple's Jade oozed class when inflicting an emphatic defeat on last season's Stayers' Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
It was a sixth Grade 1 win for the Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old and a second consecutive victory in the Fairyhouse event for the daughter of Saddle Maker.
Yesterday's win puts Apple's Jade in a select club of horses to have won the race more than once – Istabraq (twice), Limestone Lad and Solerina both of whom landed the prize three times.
A year ago Apple's Jade edged out Vroum Vroum Mag by a short head but it was a different story on Sunday when the contest was all over bar a fall going to the final hurdle.
After Apple's Jade had made all under Jack Kennedy for a nine length win, Elliott said: "That was a really good performance. She'a stronger and better mare this season and the OLBG Mares Hurdle, which she won last season, will again be her target.
"We'll stick to mares race and she'll have a break now before having her Cheltenham prep at Punchestown as she did last season. She'll get an entry for the Stayers Hurdle but I'd say it's 100 per cent that she will run in the mares race.
"Martin Pipe told me some time ago that you should always run a horse in a race you think he'll win."
BoyleSports cut Apple's Jade to evens (from 2) for the Cheltenham event while Betfair go 6-4 (from 9-2) for the same race and 10-1 for the Stayers' Hurdle.
Kennedy was impressed by the winner's performance. "She's galloped them into the ground. She's some mare and definitely one of the best horses I've ridden, "Kennedy said.
While the 7lb mares allowance Apple's Jade received made little difference to the result – runner-up Nichols Canyon was beginning to feel the pinch when he fluffed the second-last – Gigginstown boss Michael O'Leary is not a fan of the concession.
He said: "I genuinely believe the 7lb allowance is wrong and shouldn't be there."
Nichols Canyon, who was chasing a ninth Grade 1 win, will improve for the run, according to trainer Willie Mullins.
"We were beaten by a very good mare and I'm making no excuses. I'd imagine our horse will improve for the run but I'm not saying he'll beat Apple's Jade if they meet again," Mullins said.
Coral Cup winner, Supasundae, finished a length and three-quarters behind Nichols Canyon in third, with Cilaos Emery a short head away in fourth.