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Champion Hurdle looks off the agenda for Apple's Jade following shock reverse


Rashaan (right) wins at Down Royal

Rashaan (right) wins at Down Royal

Rashaan (right) wins at Down Royal

Gordon Elliott effectively ruled out a tilt at the Champion Hurdle with Apple's Jade after she suffered a shock defeat on her seasonal reappearance at Down Royal.

So impressive when winning Grade One events at Aintree and Punchestown in the spring, the four-year-old was making her first start for Elliott in the WKD Hurdle following the well-publicised split between owners Gigginstown House Stud and champion trainer Willie Mullins.

The 1-2 favourite made most of the running under Ruby Walsh, but was unable to shake off her rivals and 10-1 shot Rashaan loomed up as a big danger rounding the home turn.

There was little to choose between the pair jumping the final flight, but Colin Kidd's stable star was away from it quicker and passed the post a length and a half to the good.

Apple's Jade was pushed out to 16-1 from 8-1 for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham by Paddy Power, and Elliott plans to step his filly up in distance on her next start.

He said: "I'm disappointed, but the positive is we haven't had her that long.

"I know she'll come on from the run, but she'll not be winning any Champion Hurdle, that's one thing I will tell you.

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"She did jump well, she just looked slow. If you look at those Triumph Hurdle horses over the years, they do want a trip.

"We'll step her up in trip and she'll win loads of races."

Winning jockey Sean Flanagan said: "Colin holds this lad in high regard and when he was running as a juvenile he was running into the likes of Footpad.

"Then he was running on heavy ground and he wants a bit of nicer ground.

"He ran a cracker in Leopardstown last week (ninth in November Handicap) after encountering a lot of traffic problems.

"We knew the favourite was going to be hard to beat, but we hoped we'd give her a run for her money and it paid off."

Rashaan could make a swift return to action before being given a winter break.

"Last year the heavy ground along the winter just didn't suit him," said Kidd.

"We have been blessed with the weather the last couple of months. I am just going to keep him going while the ground is this way. Once the word 'heavy' appears in the ground, he'll get a rest and come back for some of the big races in the spring.

"Today was the plan. If the weather stays this way he could go to Naas next Saturday for the four-year-old Grade Three. If the ground comes up no worse than yielding, he could possibly run there."

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