Jade leads top Gigginstown team into battle at Punchestown
Apple's Jade, winner of the Grade 1 OLBG Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, will be among Gigginstown House Stud's big hopes for next week's Punchestown festival when she will be seeking a fifth Grade 1 victory.
Already assured of retaining the owners' championship, Gigginstown will be strongly represented over the five days of the festival and spokesman Eddie O'Leary highlighted Apple's Jade, who won the Grade 1 Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at the meeting a year ago, as one of their leading contenders.
He said on Wednesday: "We were delighted with Apple's Jade at Cheltenham. She's in three races next week and will run in either the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle over three miles on Thursday or the Champion Mares Hurdle over two and a half miles two days later."
Petit Mouchoir, winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, will run in the Betdaq Champion Hurdle.
O'Leary said: "He ran very well when third behind Buveur D'Air in the Stan James Champion Hurdle. The winner is an extremely good horse and now that Petit Mouchoir is more settled in his races it should give him a good chance next week. He'll be going over fences next season and we hope he'll make a nice three-mile chaser."
Outlander, who landed the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December, disappointed in the Timico Cheltenham Gold and will be given the chance to redeem his reputation in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday.
"We were mystified by Outlander's performance at Cheltenham and no excuse came to light for his disappointing display. He usually travels well in his races but he was never going at any stage in the Gold Cup. We're hoping we'll see a different horse next week but we'll need to as it looks like being a really good race," O'Leary said.
Disko, third behind Yorkhill in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, will step up five furlongs in distance in the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase on Tuesday.
“It just didn’t happen for him at Cheltenham where he was never really travelling,” O’Leary added. “We’re hoping he’s better than he ran there.”
Death Duty, who lost his unbeaten record over hurdles when disappointing in the Albert Bartlett, is heading for the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle over three miles on Wednesday, while Gigginstown’s Martin Pipe winner Champagne Classic is likely to step into Grade 1 company in the 2m4f Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle.
O’Leary said: “We were a bit surprised by Champagne Classic at Cheltenham and maybe it was down to the better ground.
“The Martin Pipe has been won by some good horses and we’re looking forward to running him.”
The ground at Punchestown on Wednesday was “good, good to yielding”.
With the forecast for mainly dry weather over the coming days Richie Galway, racing manager at the track, said: “We’ve started watering because of the settled forecast.”