APPLE'S Jade successfully defended her crown with an impressive display in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

Gordon Elliott’s star mare used this two-and-a-half-mile contest as a springboard to winning her second Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and also the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last season.

She could only finish third behind Benie Des Dieux at Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring, but she was the even-money favourite to make a successful reappearance once again and did so in fine style under Jack Kennedy.

Apple’s Jade was sent straight to the lead and led fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners Dortmund Park and Identity Thief into the straight. The six-year-old was well in command jumping the second flight from the finish and comfortably pulled 11 lengths clear.

“She was good there today and we’re delighted,” said Elliott. “She had to do the donkey work and she’ll even come on a little bit from the run, but we’re delighted – it was a great run.

“We’ll go to Fairyhouse now for the Hatton’s Grace. I was very happy and she was a different mare than she was on her last two runs. It was nice to get her back on track. She showed a lot of her old spark.”

Jessica Harrington’s 2014 Champion Hurdle hero Jezki came through to fill the runner-up spot, but the race was tinged with sadness as Henry de Bromhead’s dual Grade 1 winner Identity Thief suffered a fatal injury jumping the second-last.

Ballyoisin outclassed his rivals in the Grade 2 Fortria Chase.

Having followed up successive wins over fences at Killarney and Punchestown with victory in a valuable handicap hurdle at Listowel in September, Enda Bolger’s stable star was a prohibitively-priced 8/13 favourite returning to the larger obstacles for this two-mile assignment.

Barry Geraghty sent the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old straight to the lead and set a fierce pace from the outset.

He had the race in safe-keeping round the home turn barring any accidents and safely negotiated the remaining obstacles to seal a dominant and impressive 23-length success.

Ordinary World was second, six lengths ahead of Listen Dear in third. Rock The World was a distant last of four runners.

Bolger said: “We’re delighted with him and he’s doing everything we’re asking of him. His jumping is slick and the one question mark we would have is the real heavy winter ground.

“He seems to be in good form all the time at home. We’ll follow the ground and follow the money. Leopardstown could be his track with all the fences as he loves the jumping. He’s a dream of a horse.”

Aramon looks set to try his hand in Grade 1 company after running out an impressive winner of the Grade 3 For Auction Novice Hurdle at Navan.

The Supreme Horse Racing Club-owned five-year-old was the lesser fancied of two runners in the two-mile contest for Willie Mullins, with stable jockey Ruby Walsh instead siding with impressive Tipperary scorer Quick Grabim.

Aramon, a winner on his hurdling debut at Kilbeggan before being beaten by Triplicate at Listowel, was an 8/1 shot in the hands of Paul Townend and travelled powerfully throughout the race.

The German import loomed up ominously in the straight and readily pulled three lengths clear on the run-in. Magnium was second ahead of Choungaya in third.

Quick Grabim was doing his best work at the finish to claim fourth, but even-money favourite Felix Desjy was a disappointing last of seven runners.

Mullins said: “That’s a huge improvement for him (Aramon) and he showed a lot more speed than we thought he had. You’d probably have to look at the Royal Bond (at Fairyhouse, December 2nd) now.

“He ran very green in Listowel and I asked Paul not to make as much use of him as he did there and see what he would do, so we are pleasantly surprised at how he took to the change of tactics.

“He lost his off-fore shoe and he got a nice little cut, as did Quick Grabim. It must have been a rougher race than we thought.

“They got two little cuts on the sides of their pasterns. I hope they are just typical racing injuries that will be all right in 10 days’ time.”