Hatton's Grace Hurdle
|Grade 1, Fairyhouse 13:40
2m 4f, Class 1
|Sunday 4th December 2016|
1 Apple's Jade 4/1
2 Vroum Vroum Mag 4/7F
3 Shaneshill 5/1
7 ran Distances: shd, 7l, 1¾l
TIME 4m 57.80s (slow by 20.80s)
Apple's Jade does just enough to see off Vroum Vroum Mag
Vroum Vroum Mag looked sure to oblige running to the second-last as Ruby Walsh appeared to have everything covered.
Bryan Cooper, who had taken a nasty-looking fall just half an hour earlier in the Royal Bond, was asking for everything on the Gigginstown House Stud-owned four-year-old and she kept on responding.
This was a return to something like the form which saw her win a Grade One by 41 lengths at Aintree last season, when she was trained by Willie Mullins, the man responsible for Vroum Vroum Mag.
Sent off at 4/1, Apple's Jade perhaps showed the advantage of race fitness in coming out on top in the photo finish, inflicting a first defeat on Vroum Vroum Mag in 11 races.
Cooper said: "I didn't think I'd be riding again after the fall, thank god the impact was on my left leg, the better of the two!
"She's so tough, I made the call last week (to ride Petit Mouchoir) and I maintain that was right, but she is progressing with each race.
"I didn't know she's be coming here last week but it was a fair call, she was bouncing and if she came back to her form of last year she had to have a chance.
"Gordon told me I knew her, I knew she stayed and last year at Aintree I felt she was a stayer.
Elliott said: "It's great it worked out. She had a hard race last week, but I'm in a lucky position training for Gigginstown and they left it up to me - she actually weighed more than before she went to Newcastle.
"I'm delighted for Bryan as he needed that. She's so brave and I'd say she needs three miles before the season is out."
Gigginstown boss Michael O'Leary said: "Gordon wasn't going to run her, but she bounced out of Newcastle so well. I think she probably suffered a bit in the transition from Willie's to Gordon's and she probably wasn't fit enough first time at Down Royal.
"Newcastle brought her on a ton and Gordon said we either run here or over three miles at Christmas - we didn't want to do that so early.
"She'll have a break now until after Christmas, it's great for Gordon and great for Bryan and I have to say thanks to Willie and to Harold Kirk who bought her, without them we wouldn't own her.
"Bryan's having plenty of winners, but he's had an awful lot of injuries - it's always good to beat Ruby in a tight finish, it probably adds a bit of cream on top."
Elliott went on: "I met three or four people coming in today and they were maybe slating me for running her. I'm in a lucky position to be training for the lads and they left it up to me.
"We were learning a bit about her to be honest. To run in the Fighting Fifth last week and coming back here this week is a testament to how good a mare she is.
"The Mares' Hurdle in Cheltenham will be her Gold Cup. There are a couple of races at the start of February for her.
"She won't go to Christmas. She'll have one run before Cheltenham, all being well. Saying that she might run next week!"
Regarding the Champion Hurdle, he said: "It's definitely out. She wouldn't be mapped in it - I don't think so anyway."
Sky Bet reacted by cutting the winner for three races at the Cheltenham Festival. Michael Shinners said: "Another cracking race at Fairyhouse and there really wasn't anything in it at the line. Apple's Jade is so tough and we've gone 2/1 the pair for the Mares' Hurdle, with Apple's Jade also cut from 20s to 14s for the Champion Hurdle and 25/1 to 16/1 for the World Hurdle.
"Three miles could be an interesting option as Gigginstown (Ryanair) sponsor the race this year."
Hatton's Grace Hurdle
€99,999 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f, Class 1
Going: Good to Yielding, Yielding in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Apple's Jade (FR) 4/1||B J Cooper
|2nd||s.h||Vroum Vroum Mag (FR) 4/7f||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||7|
|3rd||7||Shaneshill (IRE) 5/1||P Townend
|W P Mullins||7|
|4th||1¾||Ivanovich Gorbatov (IRE) 16/1||B J Geraghty
|Joseph P O'Brien||4|
|5th||13||Dedigout (IRE) 40/1||J W Kennedy
|6th||nk||Monksland (IRE) 25/1||S W Flanagan
|7th||22||Whiteout (GER) 50/1||D E Mullins
|W P Mullins||5|