Russell hails Apple's Jade
Jockey Davy Russell has praised Apple's Jade following Thursday's Christmas Hurdle triumph and believes she is on track for Cheltenham.
The five-year-old was stepped up in distance on Thursday at Leopardstown but showed no signs of a struggle over three miles to win the Christmas Hurdle and end 2017 on a high.
Apple’s Jade had to kick on at the final hurdle but showed great stamina to burst past Supasundae, who was beaten by half-a-length, with Bapaume coming home third.
Russell was handed the chance to fill in for regular rider Jack Kennedy and he was quick to praise the team and Jade for her performance.
"All credit has to go to Jack, Lisa and the team at home, really. I knew when I got stuck into her she'd find loads - Supasundae ran well in Fairyhouse and I knew he'd stay, but to be fair, Apple's Jade is all heart,” Russell said.
"It's amazing what a good filly can do."
Trainer Gordon Elliott confirmed that Kennedy will soon be back in the saddle and made it clear they are lining the impressive mare up for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Elliott said: "Davy gave her a great ride but she's Jack's mare and Jack will be riding her the next day. He got a couple of falls and he was very sore this morning, so he couldn't ride, but she's Jack's ride and he'll be back on her the next day.
"She'll be against the girls next time in Cheltenham, the mares' race is the plan. She's just five years old and has now won seven Grade Ones.”
Meanwhile, the race was tinged with sadness as Stayers’ Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon fell with a circuit to go which has now been confirmed as a fatal incident.
Bobbie Jackson is a reporter with an in-depth knowledge of football at all levels. A Blackpool supporter, Bobbie is also a keen rugby union, boxing, MMA and UFC follower.