There could be a Meath flavour to the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on the first day of The Festival™ presented by Bulmers, Champion Day next Tuesday.
Gordon Elliott,Gavin Cromwell, Robbie Power and Barry Geraghty all have solid prospects.
The Gordon Elliott-trained mares Apple's Jade is one of about 50 runners that the Summerhill man will have at the Cheltenham Festival and will be bidding to win the Champion Hurdle on opening day next Tuesday.
Apple's Jade has won three Grade 1 contests over different distances against the geldings by an aggregate of 62 lengths and will go into next Tuesday's feature with solid prospects.
Another Meath contender is the Gavin Cromwell-trained Espoir D'Allen successful in seven of his eight starts over hurdles while Meath jockey Barry Geraghty will partner the favourite Buveur D'Air.
Dual winner Buveur D'Air, trained by Nicky Henderson, is among the 14 six-day acceptors for the £450,000 race (3.30pm) which is the feature race at Cheltenham on the first day of The Festival™ presented by Bulmers, Champion Day.
"This year's Unibet Champion Hurdle is a better contest than last year," suggested trainer Henderson today.
"I don't think Buveur D'Air was at his best last year. He probably ran around 10lb below his rating in last year's Champion Hurdle but still managed to win which was down more to his own toughness.
"This year, he has a couple of really talented mares to take on in Apple's Jade and Laurina. He has to give them both 7lb and that is going to be tough.
"However, we are really pleased with him and Barry Geraghty rode him over the weekend and was very happy with him, so if he is happy with him, I am happy with him.
Unibet Champion Hurdle - Unibet prices:
15/8 Buveur D'Air; 9/4 Apple's Jade; 4/1 Laurina; 10/1 Sharjah; 14/1 Melon; 16/1 Brain Power, Espoir D'Allen, Verdana Blue; 20/1 Supasundae; 33/1 Global Citizen; 40/1 Petit Mouchoir, Silver Streak; 50/1 Vision Des Flos; 100/1 Farclas
THE GOING AT CHELTENHAM
The going at Cheltenham is currently: Good to Soft, Soft in places
Simon Claisse, Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham Racecourse and Director of Racing, Jockey Club Racecourse, South West Region, said today: "As anticipated, the rains have come.
"When we gave the last update a week ago, the temperature was around 16 or 17 degrees and the forecast was for plenty of rain over the next six or seven days. We have had that, with 27 millimetres falling up until Tuesday night into Wednesday (today).
"We are now Good to Soft, Soft in places on all five tracks (Chase & Hurdle courses on both Old & New Courses plus the Cross Country Course).
"The outlook is for the weather to remain unsettled, with plenty more rain to come."