Russell proves supersub as 'Jade' proves her class again
In a race marred by the death of Nichols Canyon, Apple's Jade had to dig deep to collar Supasundae close home and land the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle.
The two principals cut out the running between them over the three miles and it looked for a long way as though Supasundae would come out on top, until Apple's Jade - trying the trip for the first time - pulled out more on the long run to the line. The flight in front of the stands had to be omitted as this was the obstacle where Nichols Canyon suffered his fatal fall first time around.
Davy Russell, replacing the injured Jack Kennedy on the 4/6 favourite, got extra out of the Gordon Elliott-trained mare to get up by half a length for owners Gigginstown House Stud.
"She's something else," said Russell. "I've only ridden her at home and it's a pleasure to ride her, even at home. Lisa O'Neill does all the work on her, but really Jack (Kennedy) is the man that has probably made her and unfortunately he got a couple of horrid falls during the week.
"All credit has to go to Jack, Lisa and the team at home, really. I knew when I got stuck into her she'd find loads - Supasundae ran well in Fairyhouse and I knew he'd stay, but to be fair, Apple's Jade is all heart. It's amazing what a good filly can do."
Apple's Jade was cut to evens favourite from 6/4 for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham and Elliott said: "Davy said if he rode her again he would have got her into a battle earlier, but in fairness she was in front where it mattered.
"Davy gave her a great ride, but she's Jack's mare and Jack will be riding her the next day.
"He got a couple of falls and he was very sore this morning, so he couldn't ride, but she's Jack's ride and he'll be back on her the next day."