Elliott: 'Jade' to seek redemption at Punchestown
Gordon Elliott is eyeing Punchestown redemption for Apple's Jade following her disappointing effort in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last week.
The seven-year-old had enjoyed a brilliant season, racking up a hat-trick of wide-margin Grade One wins in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse, the Christmas Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
She was the marginal favourite to claim the two-mile hurdling crown last Tuesday, but was under pressure from an early stage and passed the post well beaten in sixth place.
Elliott later revealed she had returned a dirty scope and he is now concentrating on getting her back to form for next month's Punchestown Festival, where she is likely to have several options.
"We thought she was in great form going over but, to me, she was beaten after two hurdles," he said. "She stepped into the second hurdle, and she never looked happy at all afterwards."
Samcro was a notable absentee from Elliott's Cheltenham squad. The seven-year-old, which has not run since the turn of the year after being treated for a lung infection, could return before the end of the season, with Aintree and Punchestown both options.
"He'll have a bit of work on Friday morning and then I'll see what I do," said Elliott, who is responsible for 34 of the 110 entries for this year's BoyleSports Irish Grand National.
Among the powerhouse stable's huge prospective army for the Easter Monday highlight on April 22 is last season's hero General Principle, top-weight The Storyteller, the hugely popular Tiger Roll, which is more likely to defend his Aintree crown on April 6.
"We'll hopefully have maybe 10 runners this year and we'll see what way we split them up between there and Aintree," said Elliott.
"A horse fell in front of General Principle at Cheltenham (in the Ultima Handicap Chase) last week and stopped him. Jack (Kennedy) wisely pulled him up. He'll go to Aintree first and there is every chance he'll come back for the Irish National as well.
"There is also every possibility that Shattered Love will run in it (Irish National). She came out of the Gold Cup well. Jury Duty will run in the English National and there is every chance he'll come back for the Irish National then.
"Folsom Blue is in both and will go for one or the other and Dounikos ticks a lot of boxes. He's a horse that likes a bit better ground, and I'll go wherever he gets the ground."
Willie Mullins has a team of 15 possibles, including Rathvinden, Killultagh Vic, Pairofbrowneyes and Isleofhopendreams, which was second last year.
Tout Est Permis is an interesting entry for Noel Meade - with Forever Gold, third last season, set to carry the hopes of Edward Cawley.
It is 19 years since Ted Walsh won with Commanche Court and he could run his Cheltenham Festival winner Any Second Now.
There are 19 British-trained entries - with Blaklion, Vintage Clouds, Big River and Ramses De Teillee among the pick of them.
Coming Soon: Independent.ie's new GAA newsletter. Sign up here