Gordon Elliott will have 10 runners on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, but the stand-out is undoubtedly Apple’s Jade in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
Dual Grand National winner Elliott was the Irish Independent Leading Trainer for a second successive year in 2018 with a record eight winners and has had 22 winners since getting off the mark with Chicago Grey in 2011.
Elliott, whose team of “46 or 47” is the biggest he has brought to Cheltenham, said: “Apple’s Jade travelled over on Sunday and was in good form when she went out on the track with the rest of my team this morning.”
Running through the rest of his first-day runners, he added: “Felix Desjy and Vision d’Honneur are both in good form and should run well in the Supreme Novices’, and I couldn’t be happier with Hardline, who is in very good form for the Arkle.
“Northern Endeavour and General Principle, who won the Irish National last year, are both in good order for the Ultima, and all of my three in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap have chances in what looks a tough race.
“My last runner is Gun Digger in the National Hunt Chase. He disappointed last time but I’m hoping he runs well.”
Henry De Bromhead was among the other trainers out on the track supervising runners as they stretched their legs. He said: “We have a few runners and hopefully we have a few chances. Anything you send over you hope has a chance but inevitably you end up with a few disappointments, it is so competitive. There are plenty there with each-way chances. I couldn’t pick one above any other.”