Ivanovic Gorbatov and Apple’s Jade set to renew rivalry

Willie Mullins four-year-old reversed the form with staggering Aintree victory

Apple's Jade bids to prove there was no fluke about her jaw-dropping Aintree victory in Saturday's AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown.

Runner-up to Aidan O'Brien's Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned filly turned the tables in spectacular fashion on Merseyside with a 41-length success.

The pair meet again on the final day of the Punchestown Festival and Gigginstown supremo Michael O’Leary is unsure what to expect.

He said: “If you believe what you saw at Aintree, then Apple’s Jade is very good, but it was hard to believe.

“She never ran on the Flat and that was only her fourth ever run at Aintree. She’s a little baby coming through.”

Connections of Ivanovich Gorbatov feel the Montjeu gelding was inconvenienced by the rain-softened ground at Aintree, but admit they were beaten fair and square.

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: "He got well beat at Liverpool. The mare was very good and he'll have his work cut out to turn the tables on her."

Mullins also saddles Triumph Hurdle fourth Let’s Dance and French import Cap D’Aubois as he bids to win the Grade One prize for the fourth successive year.

McManus has a second declared runner in the form of Gavin Cromwell’s star filly Jer’s Girl, but she is due to line up as favourite for Friday’s Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle.

Tocororo, who is likely to be a rank outsider for Gigginstown and trainer Gordon Elliott, completes a six-strong field.