Focus turns to Leopardstown Christmas Festival for Elliott and Apple’s Jade

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Focus turns to Leopardstown Christmas Festival for Elliott and Apple’s Jade
By Patrick Ward 11:22 Thursday 6th of December 2018

Gordon Elliott is planning to unleash all the weaponry in his sizable arsenal at this month’s Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

The Meath-based trainer delighted in the hugely impressive win for Apple’s Jade at the weekend in Fairyhouse, showing that the star mare’s form is back to its best having backed up a similarly commanding display in Navan three weeks earlier.

Speaking at his yard during the launch of this year’s Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Elliott explained that the six-year-old pulled a shoe when winning her third Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday under Jack Kennedy, but she came through the race very well. “She pulled a shoe; you could see coming into the ring there yesterday that she had no front shoe on her. She’ll have an easy week this week and she’ll start back and go straight to Leopardstown all being well,” confirmed Elliott, who will most likely aim her towards the Grade 1 Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle on Friday December 28.

“It’s unbelievable to think she’s only six years of age and she has eight Grade 1s won. She looks like she’s getting better. We had a little problem last year – well not a problem – she was in season in Cheltenham and Punchestown. Whether we were unlucky or it was something that just happened at that time of year, hopefully we’ll have it rectified for next year. She’s a very good mare and we’re lucky to have her.”

Apple’s Jade is just one of a huge number of entries that will be coming from Elliott over the four-day festival, which boasts an increase this year in prize-money for eight feature races, including the seven Grade 1 races alongside many of those on the supporting cards. Overall, the total prize-money over the four days is €1.4m, an increase of €160,000 (12%) compared to 2017.

The Longwood handler confirmed that Malone Road will most likely miss the remainder of this season however as he is currently suffering from a knee injury, which puts his participation in next spring’s Cheltenham Festival in doubt. Elliott outlined that the injury is not career-threatening however.

Leopardstown Racecourse are gearing up for the start of another redevelopment phase as prepare for the build of a new museum bar, grandstand, prize-winning area, weigh room and pavilion.

For the next few weeks, however, attention will be focused on the action that is to come on the track, which once again promises to deliver a bumper post-Christmas racing feast.

Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: “All the team here at Leopardstown are very much looking forward to another four days of great racing at the Christmas Festival. Today's entries reflect the very high standard of racing we have come to expect at Christmas. The quality of racing is greatly helped by the wonderful prizemoney on offer. We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors whose contribution allow us offer these purses. We are also very grateful to the owners who support Leopardstown with their very best horses every year.”

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