Saturday 22 October 2016

Annie Power keeps Mullins flying high

Published 03/05/2015 | 02:30

Ruby Walsh and Annie Power win the Mares’ Champion Hurdle
Ruby Walsh and Annie Power win the Mares’ Champion Hurdle

Willie Mullins extended his domination of the Punchestown Festival to the last day as he saddled Annie Power and Petite Parisienne to land the final two Grade One heats at this year's meeting.

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Mullins has been the name on everyone's lips once again at the Kildare venue, with the likes of Faugheen, Un De Sceaux and Valseur Lido ensuring he again rounds off the campaign in style.

Annie Power could be counted among Mullins' stable stars, but she had questions to answer in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle after crashing out at the last when leading the Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. She erased that memory as she cruised clear in the hands of Ruby Walsh, safely negotiating the final flight to see off stablemate Analifet by 10 lengths.

Mullins - who had a record 16 wins during the five days - said: "She's back and we'll have to decide whether to go to France or put her away.

"She was definitely not herself after the fall at Cheltenham and I was concerned after her first few bits of work that she might have pulled something in her neck and was not letting herself go.

"However, Ruby pushed her a bit more in a piece of work and she was better, and she's worked well in her last few bits.

"I'm just lucky to have her. She's got everything - she has size, scope, a lovely deep girth and the temperament as well."

Petite Parisienne led home another one-two for the yard as she claimed a wide-margin verdict in the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle.

Partnered by Bryan Cooper, the 11/4 favourite could be called the winner some way out and, although she crashed through the last obstacle, she had enough in hand to win by eight and a half lengths from Buiseness Sivola.

Mullins - winning an incredible 30th Grade One of the season - said: "Compared to Annie Power, it's like little and large, but she has a huge engine. I thought Bryan was in a bit of trouble caught on the inside at the fourth-last, but the minute she got daylight she picked up.

"She could go for the Prix Alain du Breil at Auteuil if the owners want to go there."

Mullins teamed up with son Patrick to make it a treble as 9/10 favourite Nambour outclassed his rivals in the K Club Hotel, Spa & Ryder Cup Venue (Pro/Am) Flat Race.

He reflected: "It has been a fantastic week and I'm lucky to have great staff who do all the work. I know the likes of Faugheen and Annie Power have been great, but the highlight for me, the one we'll take home with us, was Uncle Junior winning the FBD Chase for La Touche Cup at 14 years of age. Patrick enjoyed it and it was just fantastic stuff."

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