THE MULLINS clan are famed for producing top-class mares, and champion trainer Willie looks like he has another on his hands.
His father Paddy was famed for his association with Dawn Run and outstanding Flat performer Hurry Harriet, while brother Tom enjoyed great success with Asian Maze and, of course, Willie already has four-time-winning Cheltenham heroine Quevega in his yard.
Now, on the cusp of joining those elite performers is Annie Power, which swept to her sixth success in yesterday's paddypower.com Novice Hurdle at Naas.
The five-year-old is now unbeaten in three races over jumps to add to her three bumper victories – two of them trained by Jim Bolger – after she took the scalp of the highly promising Defy Logic.
Tony McCoy tried to dictate matters from the front on the latter, but he was strongly pressed at the business end and his mount had no answer to Annie Power.
Ruby Walsh looked to be going best of all on the 5/2 shot, which shrugged aside Defy Logic at the final flight and quickened away to take Grade Two honours by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
"I didn't know how good she was and we came here to find out," said the record-breaking Mullins, who enjoyed a treble on the day.
"She has the size and scope to be anything. She looks like she'll be a chaser in time and I hope she'll improve and keep getting stronger. With a summer's grass she can do nothing but improve."
McCoy earlier teamed up with Mullins when steering French recruit Upsie to victory in the opening maiden hurdle. The JP McManus-owned mare was 4/7 to make a winning debut over jumps, but success was not without a scare.
She almost went through the wing after the third-last when hampered and about to be asked for an effort, but she soon recovered to score by three-and-three-quarter lengths from Aerlite Supreme.
"She looks a good mare and we'll find a nice novice for her somewhere," said the Co Carlow handler. "She did that well there against geldings and she could take them on again."
The Mullins treble was completed by Outlander (11/10 favourite), which made it a hat-trick of bumper successes in the closing bumper in the hands of the trainer's son, Patrick.
"We'll probably look at (the Grade One bumper at) Punchestown if he comes out of this well," revealed Mullins. "I don't think there are any other bumpers over here for three-time winners before that."
Sweeney Tunes – running in the same Michael O'Leary colours as Outlander – capitalised on a bad mistake three out by the Mullins-trained Mikael D'Haguenet to lift the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase.
Mikael D'Haguenet looked like he was about to justify his 4/7 price tag for much of the trip until he sprawled on landing after jumping the third from home and went from first to last.
Davy Russell soon set sail for home on the Paul Nolan-trained gelding which defeated Charlie's Vic by three-and-a-half lengths, with Mikael D'Haguenet rallying to be third.
"It's nice to win these Grade Two races, but at the end of the day Mikael D'Haguenet looked like he would have sluiced in," said Nolan.
"He's entered in the Novice Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, but he was given a mark over 140, so he's not eligible for it. He's in some of the open handicaps there, but running this close to the Festival is not ideal, so we might look at the Irish National instead."
Russell completed a double with an emphatic victory on the well-backed Mallowney handicap hurdle for trainer Tim Doyle.
A costly error at the last by Realt Dubh let in Days Hotel to land the paddypower.com Chase.
Paul Carberry brought Realt Dubh with what looked a well-timed run to challenge the long-time leader, but his mount met the final obstacle all wrong. That left Andrew Lynch on Days Hotel (5/2), trained by Henry de Bromhead, to come home six lengths clear of Realt Dubh.
De Bromhead said: "His jumping won it for him and he had to do it the hard way. The Normans Grove at Fairyhouse (April 2) is probably the obvious one now."
In the staying handicap hurdle, Paul Townend was on the mark for Francis Flood as 10/1 outsider Miss Xian ran out a game winner after racing prominently all the way.