The race looks set to be a ding-dong affair at the Cheltenham Festival next month.
<p>It’s just a little over a month to go until the Cheltenham Festival and the Champion Hurdle ante-post prices are worth a peruse after a significant victory for Apple Jade on Saturday.</p><p>Apple Jade took the spoils in the Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Festival and gets a 9/4 quote from <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b">William Hill</a> for the big one on Tuesday March 12. <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18">Bet365</a> are 7/4 and <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=b4150791-892f-469b-9b6a-7dfc6df0fb07">Ladbrokes</a> 15/8. Beftair Sportsbook go 2s.</p><p>So with Buveur D’Air also 2/1 (William Hill) we are in for a cracking heat. Buveur D'Air remained on course for a Cheltenham Champion Hurdle hat-trick by winning the Contenders Hurdle convincingly.</p><p>Immediately after the Leopardstown race the clash between the two didn’t look like happening because trainer Gordon Elliott indicated the more likely outing would be the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.</p><p>But after re-watching the action Elliott appears to have had a change of heart and has said he would be “mad” not to go for the Champion Hurdle.</p><p>“I watched Buveur D’Air this morning, he’s obviously a very good horse who does what he has to do every day and is a horse I’d love to train but we’ll take him on,” said Elliott.</p><p>“Up until yesterday I would have been very nervous but to do what she did yesterday was very good, she loves a battle and I think Cheltenham suits her better than Leopardstown.”</p><p>It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. The win in Leopardstown was Apple Jade’s tenth Grade One success and she now has superstar status in Ireland.</p><p>The Racing Post, the betting bible in the UK, described Apple Jade as “brilliant”. Not surprising considering her whopping winning distance (16 lengths) was the biggest in the race in history. That’s 69 years’ worth.</p><p>Interestingly, Apple Jade beat last year’s winner Supasundae, the 2017 champion Petit Mouchoir and Melon, who was within a neck of Buveur D’Air at Cheltenham last March.</p><p>It is true that most analysts, including Elliott by the way, would reckon a neck or a bit more is about the right gulf between the two at the moment but Apple Jade’s mared improvement could make a case for an upset.</p><p>Laurina, who is next best in the betting at 5s with Betfair, is next listed in the 2m4f Listed Coral Quevega Hurdle at Punchestown on February 20. It will be her second outing of the season.</p>