Apple’s Jade likely to start hot favourite for Lismullen hat-trick

Douvan among Mullins entries for Fortria Chase at Navan

Apple’s Jade looks set to start a short odds favourite to complete a hat-trick in Sunday’s Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

The Gigginstown Stud owned mare, one of the most popular performers in the country, has opened her winter campaign for the last couple of years by winning the Grade Two prize.

The 10-time Grade One winner dominates a seven-strong entry after Tuesday’s forfeit stage which sees Apple’s Jade 10lbs clear of the next highest rated, Bacardys, on official figures.

No horse has won the Lismullen three years in a row since Cloughtaney (1988-90.)


Apple’s Jade’s reappearance is another sign of the winter jumps campaign cranking into top gear and Sunday’s Grade Two Fortria Chase contains some star names among the 11 entries.

The enigmatic Douvan is among four Willie Mullins hopefuls that also include last season's Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres and the high class Min.

Henry De Bromhead’s A Plus Tard, the 16-length winner of Cheltenham’s Close Bros Novice Chase in March, could also drop back to the minimum two mile trip for the Fortria.

Duc Des Genievres has been left in Saturday’s Grade Three Poplar Square Chase at Naas as well.

Last year the subsequent Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D’allen landed the Grade Three Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas. His owner JP McManus has four of the 10 entries left in the race this time.

In other National Hunt news the Fairyhouse programme cancelled due to heavy rainfall on Monday has been rescheduled for next Tuesday.

Last season’s Leopardstown Grade One scorer La Bague Au Roi could still make the line up for the King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas.

The Warren Greatrex-trained mare was pulled up in a Wetherby Grade Two at the weekend but connections are prepared to put a line through that. “By the time the Charlie Hall came around the ground was horrific. She’s won in that sort of ground before but that was against inferior opposition,” Greatrex reported. “I think her class got her as far as she did and Dicky [Johnson] pulled her up quickly when it wasn’t happening.”

Ireland’s flat campaign on turf finished at Naas on Sunday but the all-weather action continues at Dundalk on Wednesday afternoon.

Tom Mullins brings his smart two year old Joven back to seven furlongs for an auction maiden and judged by a run behind Nobel Prize at a mile on Sunday that move could pay off.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column