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Apple’s Jade and Buveur D’Air set to top bill in Cheltenham Champion Hurdle

• Mouthwatering clash in prospect on first day of Festival
• Bellshill strengthens hopes for Willie Mullins in Gold Cup

Drying ground robbed the second afternoon of the Dublin Festival meeting of several significant runners here on Sunday but Ireland still emerged from the weekend with its challenge for Cheltenham Festival’s championship events enhanced, not least following news of an abrupt change of plan for Apple’s Jade, the exceptional winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle on Saturday.

The initial suggestion after Apple’s Jade 16-lengths success was that she would run in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month rather than switch to the more prestigious Champion Hurdle to face Buveur D’Air, the winner of the race for the past two years.

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