It's all systems go for Jade's duel with Buveur - Elliott
Gordon Elliott is relishing a crack at reigning champion Buveur D'Air with Apple's Jade and insists it's not a necessity that the ten-time Grade One-winning mare makes the running in next month's Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Having relented to the public pressure and aimed her at the 2m showpiece rather the Mares' Hurdle, Elliott couldn't be happier with the seven-year-old - unbeaten this season and a 2/1 chance - and feels that front-running tactics aren't a necessity.
"Before Leopardstown, the Mares' Hurdle was the race we were going for but she was so good the last day we said, 'why not give her a chance at it?' It's a Champion Hurdle and we all want to win them," said Elliott (above).
"She showed how good she is. This year, she's gone from strength to strength and she'll have two more little bits of work, nothing serious and it's all systems go for the Champion.
"If she runs to the form she's running all year, she'll run a big race in the Champion Hurdle. To say she's going to win it or not, I'd be telling you a lie but if she turns up in the form she's run in the last three runs, I think she's got a great chance.
"It's not a must (making the running). She was taken on in the Hatton's Grace and I'd arguably say that was her best run of the season. I think if there was pace in the race, that might suit her better."
No decision is made on Samcro's participation in the Stayers' Hurdle (6/1) yet with a few pieces of work to tell the tale after overcoming a lung infection but Tiger Roll is definitely bound for the Cotswolds with last year's Aintree Grand National hero a 5/4 hotpot to land his fourth Festival success in the Cross Country Chase.
The Meath trainer has a 50-strong Festival team as he bids to top his eight winners last year with Ballymore hopeful Battleoverdoyen (9/2) and Champion Bumper favourite Envoi Allen (4/1) among them.