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Apple's Jade and Ivanovich Gorbatov set for rematch

Apple's Jade (left): set to face off against Ivanovich Gorbatov (right) for the fourth time
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Round four between Apple’s Jade and Ivanovich Gorbatov is on, with the four-year-olds ready to get their seasons under way at Down Royal on Friday in the WKD Hurdle.

The pair squared up at the spring festivals with Ivanovich Gorbatov gaining a length-and-a-quarter victory in the Triumph Hurdle before being comprehensively beaten by Apple’s Jade in the Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree. And the filly inflicted a second defeat on her big rival when scoring at Punchestown three weeks later.

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, who has won this race in recent seasons with Jezki and Jered, said: “Ivanovich Gorbatov and Jer’s Girl are ready to get the ball rolling this weekend, depending on the ground.

“At the moment, we’re looking at running Ivanovich Gorbatov at Down Royal while Jer’s Girl could go to Naas on Sunday. They won’t be taking each other on.

“There aren’t a lot of runners but Jer’s Girl would be capable of making her own running if she had to at Naas. But, of the two, she’d probably need a little dig in the ground more than Ivanovich Gorbatov.”

Gordon Elliott is another trainer on weather watch but issued a positive bulletin on Apple’s Jade after the filly worked on Tuesday morning.

“She did very well and I’m looking forward to getting her out. She’s an exciting filly and is ready to start off.”

Willie Mullins has entered Footpad and Thomas Hobson in the WKD Hurdle, as well as the Priory Walls Of Kilgowan Hurdle at Naas on Sunday.

Hennessy pointer

Leading fancy for the Hennessy Gold Cup, Avant Tout looks set to get his season under way this weekend ahead of an assault on Newbury later this month.

Avant Tout: one of the ante-post favourites for the Hennessy Gold Cup

The Supreme Racing Club-owned gelding has won at the Punchestown festival for the past two seasons and is said to be bang on schedule according to head of the syndicate Steve Massey, who gave an update on the Willie Mullins-trained chaser.

“He’s entered in the Grade 2 Titantic Belfast Chase at Down Royal on Saturday and the Poplar Square Chase at Naas on Sunday,” he said.

“When Willie [Mullins] gets back from Melbourne he’ll decide on whether he needs the run or whether he’ll go straight to the Hennessy. He’s a very exciting horse to have in the syndicate and we gave him an entry in the King George at Kempton as well.

“We’ll obviously take things one run at a time and he’s going to have to go well in the Hennessy before taking up that engagement.”

Don Poli needs rain

Don Poli: dirtied his bib with a terrible display in the JNWine Champion Chase at Down Royal

The champion trainer took the decision to remove Alelchi Inois and Ballycasey from Down Royal’s JNWine Chase at the five-day stage and will be without a runner in Saturday’s showpiece.

The former Mullins-trained Don Poli is reported by Gordon Elliott to be coming to the boil nicely for the three-mile test, but the Meath handler will only roll the dice if the ground is suitable.

“I want to run Don Poli in the JNWine. That’s where we want to start him off but it will depend on the weather. He works on Wednesday morning and we’ll probably make a decision after that.”

She [Apple's Jade] worked very well and I am looking forward to getting her out. She's an exciting filly and she's ready to start off
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