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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Five things we learned from the weekend's top action

Apple's Jade: a ready winner of the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday
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Elliott unmoved over Apple's Jade target

Apple's Jade is an extremely talented mare. The way she demolished Stayers' Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon at Fairyhouse on Sunday was a joy to behold and left you wondering how high her star could soar.

Many would love to see her in open company in the Stayers' Hurdle come Cheltenham, particularly as the division is lacking strength in depth, but Gordon Elliott remains adamant she will be aimed at the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.

There isn't a mare around in the same class as the six-time Grade 1 scorer and it would be a shame if she were not to be given the biggest platform to showcase her talent.

JLT shaping up to be cracker

Race by race Death Duty is slowly erasing the bad memory of last season's Albert Bartlett disappointment.

Death Duty and Davy Russell on their way to winning the Drinmore
His record over fences this campaign now reads three from three following an authoritative victory in the Drinmore Novice Chase, after which he was cut to a best-priced 8-1 for the JLT with Gordon Elliott mentioning the race as his likely Cheltenham target.

It is early days but with Finian's Oscar and Willoughby Court also showing a great deal of promise, the JLT is shaping up to be a race to savour.

Buveur the safe bet for Champion Hurdle

There was nothing new to decipher about Buveur D'Air's Cheltenham credentials after the Champion Hurdle hero's comeback victory in the Fighting Fifth.

Sent off the 1-6 favourite against inferior rivals, he travelled as sweetly as ever before asserting his class to win by an eased down three and a half lengths.

However, at six rising seven there is every chance Buveur D'Air could still be improving and, even allowing for Faugheen's impressive return to action, it is a little surprising he is still not favourite to defend his festival crown.

Recall firmly on the upgrade with National aim

Total Recall's game display in the Ladbrokes Trophy made onlookers wonder just how far the eight-year-old could go.

Ante-post quotes for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup arrived minutes after Willie Mullins' recruit passed the post a neck in front of Whisper, but the Closutton trainer on Sunday suggested the Randox Health Grand National is a likelier target.

Paul Townend: could get off to a flyer at Punchestown on Sunday
Total Recall is now at the head of the market for the Aintree highlight, and although there is a long way to go before we reach April, he has to be a live contender for Mullins, who won the race with Hedgehunter in 2005.

Bite the one to beat in King George VI Chase

It would be churlish to completely dismiss Thistlecrack from the King George VI Chase reckoning, but there is no denying Might Bite is the one to beat in the Kempton feature over Christmas.

Thistlecrack travelled nicely for two and a half miles in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday before fading in the home straight. That will put him right for the King George, but it is hard to be too confident about his chances.

Coneygree is set for a wind operation this week following his disappointing Ladbrokes Trophy showing, which rules him out of the King George – for which he was as short as 20-1.

Although Bristol De Mai, Fox Norton, Sizing John and Willie Mullins' choice of Douvan and Djakadam are solid contenders, Might Bite is more than deserving of his position at the head of the market.

If you were interested in this, you might like . . .

Weighed In: a jockey lost in the city plus redemption for a trainer

Treble hero Elliott readies new assault on trainer's title crown

Henderson: Buveur D'Air on course for Faugheen clash at Kempton


There isn't a mare around in the same class as the six-time Grade 1 scorer
E.W. Terms
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