Apple's Jade makes it a Grade One double at Punchestown
Apple's Jade completed her Grade One double as she ran out an impressive winner of the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown.
Willie Mullins' charge finished second to Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March but then reversed that form in comprehensive style when seeing off that rival by 41 lengths at Aintree earlier this month.
She was sent off the 8-13 favourite to beat her old adversary again here and it looked set to be another battle between the pair as they kicked clear of the rest of the field.
However, Cooper was merely lobbing along in front and when he gave the signal, Apple's Jade pushed on again and eventually came home nine lengths clear.
Ivanovich Gorbatov tired in the dying strides allowing another Mullins runner, Let's Dance, to snatch second in the shadow of the post.
Apple's Jade is an 8-1 shot from 14s with Paddy Power for next year's Champion Hurdle and Mullins admits she is certainly an above-average recruit.
He said: "She had a very hard race in Aintree and I wondered if it would impact on her today. We let her take her chance as it's the end of the season.
"She looks very, very good. She won at Christmas but then we had an awful time as she was stiff and sore and we couldn't train her.
"She came back at Cheltenham and that put her right as she flew in at Aintree.
"I'd say we will leave it at that. There is a chance she could go to France for the Prix du Breil but we'll have to see."