Apple’s Jade set to finish on a high at Punchestown
Aintree winner renews mes up against Ivanovich Gorbatov again
Barry Geraghty riding Ivanovich Gorbatov (right) clear the last to win The JCB Triumph Hurdle from Apple’s Jade at Cheltenham. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Bryan Cooper has to settle for the runner-up spot behind the record-breaking Ruby Walsh in the jockeys’ championship but will hope for the number one spot on Apple’s Jade on the last day of the 2015-16 season.
Even in a vintage National Hunt campaign, Apple’s Jade’s 41 length Aintree rout of the Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov earlier this month was a visually staggering performance.
The pair clash again on the final day of the Punchestown festival in the €100,000 AES Champion four-year-old hurdle and even though Ivanovich Gorbatov sports first-time cheek-pieces if Apple’s Jade is still anywhere near her Liverpool form she should be hard to beat.
Ruby Walsh is on board Let’s Dance in that contest but after the second race will be presented with a record 11th champion jockey title.
Willie Mullins is Ireland’s champion trainer for a ninth year in a row – and a 10th in all – with a prizemoney haul of well over €4 million.
Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud top the owner’s championship for a fourth time and the Ryanair boss can claim a notable double with Don Cossack’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and Rule The World’s Aintree Grand National having already contributed to him being crowned top owner in Britain.
Aidan O’Brien Slowmotion lines up in today’s other Grade One, the Irish Stallion Farms Mares Champion Hurdle. Willie Mullins has won all three renewals of this race since it was made a top-flight event and appears to rely principally on the exciting Limini who makes the leap out of novice class.
Third on her previous start against males at Aintree, Limini didn’t appear to get the run of the race that day but she still has to concede a 10lb age allowance to Slowmotion who did anything but live up to her name at Fairyhouse over Easter.
Saturday’s other €100,000 contest is the Coral Handicap Hurdle which has nine JP McManus runners – his apparent number one, Anibale Fly, may still prove hard to overcome.