Apple's Jade storms home as Gordon Elliott but Willie Mullins closes in on trainers' title
Apple's Jade ran out a wide-margin winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
Winner of Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned five-year-old was the even-money favourite to provide trainer Gordon Elliott with a much-needed victory in his battle for the trainers' title with Willie Mullins.
Airlie Beach, one of four Mullins representatives in a seven-strong field, adopted her customary pacesetting role under Danny Mullins, with Apple's Jade always her closest pursuer in the hands of Bryan Cooper.
That pair were joined by Karalee on the run to the second-last and were the only three horses in contention rounding the home turn.
Apple's Jade quickly stamped her authority on the Grade One contest, and swept to the front after the final flight to seal an impressive 14-length success.
Airlie Beach boxed on admirably for second ahead of stablemate Karalee in third.
Mullins also had the respective fourth and fifth home, Whiteout and Augusta Kate.
The win for Elliott narrows the gap to Willie Mullins in the trainer's title to €66k with just four races left in the National Hunt calendar.
Bapaume romped home for Willie Mullins in the 4.25 to extend his lead to a little over €100k.