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Stayers' Hurdle a tempting option for Apple's Jade says O'Leary

Apple's Jade: "not the same mare we saw this time last year"
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Apple's Jade could be heading for the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham after a devastating performance at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The seven-year-old mare came back to her best to land a third consecutive Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle, stretching her unbeaten record at Leopardstown to five.

Her performance capped off a magical Christmas for the Gigginstown team, who ended the festive period with 19 winners, five of which were in Grade 1s, temping the team to head towards the Stayers' in March. 

Gigginstown's Eddie O'Leary said: "We'd 19 winners over Christmas and we're still pinching ourselves. We also won five bumpers but managed to get our best bumper horse beaten!

"It was great to see Apple's Jade back to her best. You'd be tempted by the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham, but we'll leave that to Gordon [Elliott].

"The last few seasons she's been brilliant up until the spring, whereas this season it was the complete opposite of what she's been doing recently – maybe she's changing her mind."

Delta Work was another horse who looked back to his best over the weekend, taking the Savills Chase ahead of some high profile Gold Cup contenders.

Delta Work: a big Gold Cup contender following his Savills Chase win

O’Leary added: "Gordon was pretty bullish that Delta Work would leave his Down Royal run behind him but, having said that, he badly needed the run.

"We would have been happy to tip along on the outside of horses and finish third or fourth, so the fact that he won it was a fair statement and hopefully he can come forward for that again.

"There's every chance he could go straight to the Gold Cup but that will be Gordon's call."

Given the amount of success Michael O'Leary had over Christmas, some wondered whether the man behind Gigginstown would rethink his decision to pull out of the game. 

Nothing has changed on that front, according to his brother, who added: "The plan is for all of these horses to continue their careers [for Gigginstown] but when Michael decides on something he always follows through."


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The last few seasons she's been brilliant up until the spring, whereas this season it was the complete opposite of what she's been doing recently
E.W. Terms