Betfred Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle
Grade 1, Aintree 14:15
£80,000 added,
4yo only,
2m 209y, Class 1  
Thursday 7th April 2016

1 Apple's Jade 3/1
2 Ivanovich Gorbatov 7/4F
3 Azzuri 20/1
9 ran Distances: 41l, ½l, 4½l
TIME 4m 16.60s (slow by 16.60s)

Apple's Jade gets the Willie Mullins juggernaut off to a tremendous start in the Anniversary Hurdle

Apple’s Jade
© Racehorse Photos

Apple’s Jade

Apple's Jade strolled to a 41-length victory, leaving her Cheltenham conqueror Ivanovich Gorbatov in her wake.

In doing so she added to the treasure chest of her trainer, Willie Mullins, who is chasing down leader Paul Nicholls in the British Jump trainers' championship. She became the first winner for either man at this week's Crabbie's Grand National Festival.

Apple's Jade, a 3/1 shot, was ridden into the lead by Bryan Cooper turning in, and cantered clear of her rivals. Ivanovich Gorbatov, the 7/4 favourite, who had beaten her in the JCB Triumph Hurdle last month, finished half a length clear of third-placed Azzuri, who started at 20/1.

Mullins said: "I couldn't dream of anything like that. We were hoping to win, and that maybe the ground would not suit the favourite and would suit us, but nothing like that. It was extraordinary.

"I thought Bryan was mad going on when he did - before he turned in he was letting her slip into the lead and I thought this straight is far too long, there are three hurdles to jump, keep a little in your tank. When he got off her he told me he still had plenty in the tank.

"Who knows where she will go after that - it was only the fourth or fifth run of her life, because she didn't run on the Flat. When we got her we thought she was nice and would become a Triumph Hurdle mare, but nothing like that. She is now in a different league.

"It is difficult for five-year-olds - I don't think it's ever been done for a mare of that age to win a Champion Hurdle. Is she more of a World Hurdle horse? I don't make big plans for horses of that age."

Paddy Power made Apple's Jade their 5/2 favourite for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at next year's Cheltenham Festival, and 14/1 for the Stan James Champion Hurdle. Mullins has hardened to 2/7 from 1/3 for the trainers' title.

Betfred Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)
£80,000 added, 4yo only, 2m 209y, Class 1
9 ran
Going: Soft

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Apple's Jade (FR) 3/1 B J Cooper
10-7
W P Mullins 4
2nd 41 Ivanovich Gorbatov (IRE) 7/4f B J Geraghty A P O'Brien 4
3rd ½ Azzuri 20/1 Harry Skelton
11-0
D Skelton 4
4th Diego Du Charmil (FR) 10/1 Sam Twiston-Davies
11-0
P F Nicholls 4
5th Romain De Senam (FR) 16/1 Nick Scholfield
11-0
P F Nicholls 4
6th Sceau Royal (FR) 16/1 D A Jacob
11-0
A King 4
PU Doubly Clever (IRE) 66/1 N D Fehily
11-0
M Blake 4
PU Khezerabad (FR) 28/1 Nico de Boinville
11-0
N J Henderson 4
F Footpad (FR) 7/2 R Walsh
11-0
W P Mullins 4

GORBATOV GOES DOWN TO JADE

The 7/4 favourite Ivanovich Gorbatov could not repeat his JCB Triumph Hurdle victory here at Aintree and was comprehensively beaten - by 41 lengths - by the Willie Mullins-trained filly Apple's Jade, who had finished second to him at Cheltenham.

The Montjeu gelding is officially trained by Aidan O'Brien, but has been handled by O'Brien's son Joseph, the former champion Flat jockey who is due to start training in his own name this year.

Owned by J P McManus, Ivanovich Gorbatov was ridden by Barry Geraghty.

Joseph O'Brien said: "He did quite well to finish second - the filly was really good. He didn't like the ground and he ran into some trouble in the race; I can't be disappointed."

Geraghty said: "I would hope that it was the ground that was against us. It is hard to quantify but it was hard work for him - whether it was entirely down to ground or possibly the quick turnaround from Cheltenham. The winner was very good."

Dan Skelton was pleased with 20/1 chance Azzuri's third place. Having led for much of the race, he was headed by the winner approaching the second-last flight.

Skelton said: "He came here fresh, which should have been the case because we didn't run him at Cheltenham. I would say the winner has really handled the ground and everything today. Azzuri didn't surrender and kept on well, but again that's a case of him being fresh. It was a great run. We'll put him away now; he'll be our novice for next year."