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Mullins coy on Annie's future

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Annie Power with Ruby Walsh. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Annie Power with Ruby Walsh. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Annie Power with Ruby Walsh. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

HURRICANE FLY'S fourth consecutive BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle win on Sunday or Big Buck's surprise defeat at Cheltenham on Saturday has not done anything to sway trainer Willie Mullins towards what race Annie Power will run in at Cheltenham.

The six-year-old mare reverted to two-miles on Saturday as she extended her unbeaten record to 10 from 10 at Doncaster in a Grade Two mares hurdle, but when asked if the weekend events had helped make up his mind Mullins said: "Hurricane Fly will go for the Champion Hurdle, end of story."

The champion trainer ran Boston Bob in the Cleeve Hurdle but he was a disappointing sixth behind Knockara Beau, with Big Buck's back in third, and the trainer was adamant that no decision about running plans will be made until much closer to the time.

"We will ride Annie Power out in the morning and see how she is after Doncaster but there are no other plans. I won't decide anything until a couple of days before Cheltenham."

Ruby Walsh was at Doncaster to ride Annie Power while keeping a close eye on Boston Bob at Cheltenham and Big Buck's who he had won 12 races on during his spell with Paul Nicholls.

Walsh reflected: "Annie Power jumped well, she travelled well and quickened up well. What did we learn? We learnt that she was a far better mare than any of those mares on Saturday ... "

When asked about where he thought she might run after the weekend's events at Doncaster, Cheltenham and Leopardstown, he added: "There is no doubt that Willie will wait to see all the horses are healthy and well before he decides anything."

Knockara Beau was the outsider of the Cleeve Hurdle field at 66/1 and the 11-year-old was making his 45th start and Walsh admitted: "I watched the race again two or three times on Sunday morning and I don't know what to make of it. It's Knockara Beau ... It's not as if he's an improving novice so it's hard to know what to make of it."

Meanwhile, Enda Bolger insists connections are in no rush to decide whether or nor to let Saturday's Boylesports.com Hurdle winner Gilgamboa bid for another major prize in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 8.

VALUABLE

The JP McManus-owned six-year-old was among the leading contenders for Saturday's valuable handicap following a narrow triumph at Punchestown on New Year's Eve and ran out an impressive winner in the hands of Mark Walsh.

With the Betfair Hurdle coming up only a fortnight later, Bolger is keen to see how his lightly-raced charge recovers before committing to any targets.

The trainer said: "He has come out of the race in good nick and we won't be making any decision with him (in regards to Newbury) until the end of the week. He is in good form after Leopardstown but there will be no decision made for another week."

Bolger also declared his satisfaction with the performance of Quantitativeeasing in a point-to-point in Nenagh, County Tipperary on Sunday.

The nine-year-old finished third in a race won by Burren River, with former Lexus Chase winner Pandorama splitting the pair in second. Bolger said: "We were pleased with him. He might now go for the Hunters Chase at Leopardstown (the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Chase on February 9)."


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