Annie back in winning groove
Annie Power emphatically returned to winning ways in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old's spotless record was ended when she finished second in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but she reminded everyone of her talents back on home territory and back against her own sex.
Sent off the 1-6 favourite down in trip over two and a quarter miles, Annie Power made all the running under Ruby Walsh, who extended his advantage at the top of the home straight. Runner-up Jennies Jewel gave chase, but it was all in vain and she finished seven lengths in arrears, with British raider Cockney Sparrow a disappointing last of five.
Mullins said: "Ruby wanted to be bold and jumped out and let her go on. She was hanging off the rails a bit, which was a bit of a concern, but she's not raced right-handed that much.
"We didn't put in the earplugs today, either, so that could also be a reason for her hanging.
"We'll probably give her a break now as she's had a hard enough season. I'd love to see her jump those French hurdles, but she's possibly done enough travelling this season."