Apple’s Jade and Nichols Canyon to clash at Fairyhouse
Cheltenham Festival winners Apple's Jade and Nichols Canyon will do battle at Fairyhouse on Sunday after both featured among seven declared runners for the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle.
Apple's Jade won three Grade One events after leaving Willie Mullins to join Gordon Elliott last season, including a thrilling victory over former stablemate Vroum Vroum Mag in this two-and-a-half-mile contest 12 months ago.
The five-year-old went on the win the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown and, following an impressive return in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan, she looks primed to put up a staunch defence of her Fairyhouse crown.
Mullins is triple-handed in his bid to win the prize for a fourth time.
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Paul Townend, who had the pick of the trio with stable jockey Ruby Walsh sidelined by injury, has unsurprisingly sided with last season's Stayers' Hurdle hero Nichols Canyon.
The trainer's son, Patrick, partners Cilaos Emery and his cousin Danny Mullins partners classy mare Augusta Kate.
Elliott's second string Mick Jazz, Jessica Harrington-trained Coral Cup winner Supasundae and Joe Murphy's stable star Swamp Fox complete the line-up.
The first of three Grade One events on a stellar card is the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, in which Elliott saddles Hardline, Morgan and Mengli Khan.
Mullins relies upon Makitorix, while the Joseph O'Brien-trained pair of Early Doors and Le Richebourg and Red Jack from Noel Meade's stable carry the colours of JP McManus.
Death Duty is one of three Elliott representatives in the Drinmore Novice Chase along with two quality mares in Shattered Love and Dinaria Des Obeaux.
Mullins sends Rathvinden and Townshend into battle and the Meade-trained Snow Falcon makes up the six-strong field.
Proceedings get under way with the Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle, in which Elliott's Mitchouka and Gavin Cromwell's Espoir D'Allen go head to head.
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