Power-packed Annie far too good in Aintree procession
Published 08/04/2016 | 11:51
Willie Mullins' long wait to land the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle came to an end in emphatic fashion as Annie Power once again evoked memories of the magnificent mare Dawn Run with another display nothing short of sublime.
After crushing her rivals in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month, the eight-year-old produced a performance of equal quality to follow up in the Grade One prize and become the first horse since the mighty Istabraq in 1999 to complete the double
Having moved effortlessly into the lead heading out for the final circuit, shortly after the departure of 2014 winner The New One, the 4-11 favourite barely got out of cruise control for the remainder of two-and-a-half-mile contest.
After mastering Nichols Canyon early down the home straight, it was left to My Tent Or Yours to attempt to go with the eventual winner, but the white flag was soon being waved by the Nicky Henderson-trained runner on the journey to the final flight.
Despite putting in a short jump at the last there was to be no drama, with Walsh only needing to nudge his mount out to claim an 18-length success from My Tent Or Yours, with Nichols Canyon a further nine lengths back in third.
Victory not only saw Annie Power match Dawn Run in completing the same feat she achieved back in 1984, but it saw the Closutton handler join his father, Paddy, and brother Tom in clinching a race that had previously eluded him.
Mullins said: "That was only her third run of the season, so I thought she might have improved since Cheltenham, or at the very least she wouldn't have gone backwards.
"We'll certainly have a look at Punchestown for her now, that's certainly all that would be left for her in Britain or Ireland.
"As I said before, the very first day I saw her, she was the most like Dawn Run of any mare I'd seen. I'm just hoping that with her size she is still improving and getting stronger.
"She can carry weight and she could jump fences if that's what we want to do with her. With her size and scope she could do anything.
"The Aintree Hurdle is a race I've always wanted to win. We've been second in it five or six times and it has been won by some fantastic horses."
As for the winning rider he believed the performance was in many ways more emphatic than her success in the Champion Hurdle.
Walsh said: "She is dynamite. Paul (Townend) went a good gallop on Nichols Canyon and I was happy to follow him early on. He was jumping out to his right and I jumped by him at the last with a circuit to go.
"She let fly at one or two and she just has that in her and the tendency to be a bit brave. Between the last two I was afraid to look back, then I heard the commentator saying Annie Power is going clear.
"She is wonderful mare, she was fantastic at Cheltenham and she was as good today if not better."
While owner Rich Ricci has dominated the scene at the Cheltenham Festival in recent seasons, the success of Annie Power provided him with his first winner at this meeting.
He said: "I think the fact she fell at Cheltenham (in last year's Mares' Hurdle) and came back for some redemption is what sport is brilliant in offering and it's my first winner here as well.
"We probably should have brought her here a couple of years ago instead of running in the World Hurdle, but I was keen on Cheltenham.
"Sport offers lots of things and redemption is one of the best. It's good for the game."
As for Henderson, the master of Seven Barrows felt the display of My Tent Of Yours was another step in the right direction.
He said:"You could say on a line through Nichols Canyon we've stepped up from Cheltenham.
"He's run two very lucrative seconds since he's come back and think where we would be without Annie Power.
"I'd really be patting myself on the back!"