Annie Power to bounce back
Published 02/05/2015 | 02:30
Annie Power would have won on the bridle had she stood up at Cheltenham so I can't see anything getting close to her at Punchestown today.
She took a heavy fall, but Willie Mullins wouldn't be running her if he wasn't entirely happy with her after that spill. He wouldn't take a chance with a horse of her quality, so she and Ruby Walsh should emulate last year's easy win in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares' Champion Hurdle.
Katie T is a decent mare, but I still don't see her as a danger to Annie Power. She is probably the next best but that could still leave her with an awful lot to find.
Another one of Willie's worth a look later on is Nambour in the bumper. He won a point-to-point for Liam Burke in December and is by Sholokhov, Don Cossack's sire. It's not an easy race to decipher but you'd imagine this fellow could be pretty decent.
In the AES four-year-olds' Grade One hurdle, Ruby Walsh is on Buiseness Sivola. I really liked the way that he won at Fairyhouse, having not been disgraced behind Qualando in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.
The key to him is soft ground, I reckon. If the forecast rain falls, that will help his chance. Petit Parisienne finished fifth in the Triumph Hurdle before chasing Bitofapuzzle home in the mares' Grade One at Fairyhouse.
Bitofapuzzle is the best mare in Britain, so it was a fair effort for Petit Parisienne to split her, Lyrical Theatre and Uranna. She drops back into her own age group now and she receives seven pounds from most of her main rivals, which could prove crucial.
The Ladbrokes Handicap Chase is an excellent race, with Thunder And Roses looking to follow his Irish Grand National win under David Mullins.
Portrait King, the horse off which I suffered my career-ending fall at Aintree, has a chance as well. He would probably have been placed had he not fallen at the third-last in the Grand National, so he should run a big race for Andy McNamara.
Tony Martin's Heathfield could be the one that they all have to beat, though. Paul Townend, who is having a great week, won a nice race on him at Navan in March. Heathfield is 10lbs higher now, but he gets in here off just 9st 13lb, and I think a low weight will be a help in this race. If the rain comes, it could turn out to be a real slog.
Embracing Change is another horse with an obvious chance. He has been in great form all season.
JP McManus bought Heathfield recently and he bought Gallant Oscar around the same time. Gallant Oscar is declared for the Palmerstown House Handicap Chase, but he might need the rain to even be allowed run. He was pulled out at Ayr two weeks ago but, if the ground eases, he could go well.
Rule The World might be the one to keep on side. He has been running consistently well in good races, and he finished an excellent second to Thunder And Roses in the Irish National. He is four pounds higher now, but he could have the class to defy that hike under Bryan Cooper.
2.35 Are Ya Right Chief
3.10 Heathfield (Nap)
3.50 Annie Power
4.25 Petite Parisienne
5.00 Rule The World
5.35 Sort It Out
6.40 Hop In