Jade makes her reappearance in Navan on Sunday, in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle
(1.05). This is a race she has won for the past two seasons and should she
justify short odds in doing so, she will emulate the Paddy Mullins-trained
Cloughtaney (1988-1990), who was ridden to all of those victories by the
trainer’s amateur-riding sons Willie and Tom, the latter doing the steering in
she disappointed in the latter end of last season, the Gigginstown House Stud
mare had been spectacular in the build-up to the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle,
for which she went off favourite.
has won 13 of 22 races and an astonishing 10 of those have been at Grade 1
level, at 2, 2 ½ and 3 miles. The first two came in her juvenile career when
she was trained by the aforementioned Willie Mullins. Gordon Elliott has
stewarded her development brilliantly and it says something for the daughter of
Saddle Maker and Apple’s For Ever (who was sired by Nikos), that while Jack
Kennedy has been her most regularly successful jockey, she has also won with
Jonathan Burke, Bryan Cooper and Davy Russell in the saddle.
Power will become the sixth pilot to get legged up on Apple’s Jade. Ironically,
given no-one has ridden more top-flight winners in the history of jumps racing,
Ruby Walsh is the odd one out as the only jockey who didn’t win on her back,
finishing second on their only spin together in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal
three years ago.
all goes to plan, the target is a fourth consecutive Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, a
feat that has never been achieved before. Indeed only two other horses have
ever won the 2½-mile contest three times in total.
both were owned and trained by the Bowe family, making James Bowe by far the
most successful trainer in the race with six wins. Solerina was the first to do
them consecutively (2003-2005), while Limestone Lad had a gap year when he went
chasing in 2000 but returned to the smaller obstacles to add to his 1999
triumph 2001 and 2002.
is hoping to add this prize to his record for the first time but Paul Townend
has a chance of joining Charlie Swan (Danoli 1994 and Istabraq 1997, 1998) and
Solerina’s partner for her three triumphs Gary Hutchinson as the joint most
successful rider in the race, taking the appointment on Bacardys.
is good to Cilaos Emery returning to the track in the Grade 3 Poplar Square
Chase (1.05) at Naas tomorrow. This contest has only attracted five runners but
it is intriguing nonetheless.
Emery will be running for the first time in 10 months and only the second 23 so
has met with plenty of issues but was a Grade 1-winning novice hurdler when
beating subsequent dual Champion Hurdle runner-up.
Luke McMahon-owned gelding has only run three times since, the most recent of
those a very eye-catching beginners’ chase success over Impact Factor, and
subsequent Arkle Chase winner Duc Des Genievres, at Gowran Park last January.
Willie Mullins will have his charge ready for his seasonal bow but is sure to
leave plenty of room for improvement.
is another making his seasonal debut as is Duca De Thaix, while Winter Escape
is being eased back and showed indications of better health when third over
hurdles last month. Kildorrery complete the field.
former boasts plenty of class and was a thrilling Grade 1 winner at Aintree but
good ground is critical for Henry de Bromhead’s charge, though we are sure to
see some stupendous leaps with Davy Russell in the plate.
JP McManus has a particular liking for the Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle (1.40) at
Naas, he certainly boasts a tremendous record, having taken the first prize in
the last three years: De Name Escapes Me (Noel Meade 2018), Oscar Knight (Tom
Mullins 2017), Sir Scorpion (Tom Mullins 2016).
Limerick man has five contestants this time. If looking for an omen, or trend,
perhaps the fact that Mark Walsh has ridden the last three winners would lead
you towards the Eddie Harty-conditioned Kilfenora – last seen when third over a
half-mile further in Punchestown.
down towards the bottom of the handicap is Rock De Baune however, who has
enjoyed a busy summer on the level, winning twice and coming off a brilliant
third in the Tote Irish Cesarewitch. His form over obstacles isn’t good, given
that he was thrown into Listed company on debut but John Kiely is a maestro and
with the underground conditions in his favour as well as fitness, he just might
be the one, especially with the in-form Darragh O’Keeffe doing the propelling.