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Mullins has Power to settle Festival debate


RACING would have nothing if it didn't stir debate and what a weekend it was for that.

'Where will Annie Power go now?' was the first topic after the mare won over two-miles at Doncaster on Saturday.

Next up was Big Buck's. 'Did Sam Twiston-Davies go too soon?' and 'Can he win another World Hurdle after being beat by Knockara Beau?' were the two standout questions after his surprise defeat.

Then it was Sunday and Hurricane Fly. As the dust settled on a wonderful day there was the emergence of the 'Captain Cee Bee was too close to Hurricane Fly for him to win the Champion Hurdle' camp.

We can settle one of those debates now ... well kind of. Willie Mullins will not tell us, or maybe even himself, where Annie Power is going until just days before the Festival so we can wonder all we like, it'll be five or so weeks before we know if we are right or wrong.

Did Sam go too soon? Probably. Was it his fault? Probably not. He claims to have been told to ride the horse as if he was 110 per cent fit, and if that's the case the buck stops with Paul Nicholls. Surely getting him to win on his return with the minimum of fuss should have been higher on the agenda.

When I spoke to Ruby Walsh about the race on Sunday he simply said: "I don't know what to make of it" as Boston Bob disappointed and Knockara Beau, a Kelso specialist who is looking for a Gold Cup slog, beat them all at the ripe old age of 11.

I certainly think I'd be taking him on in the World Hurdle and if I owned Annie Power I think I'd be trying to maintain her unbeaten record by going there. She is prone to being less than fluent at the odd hurdle and she'll surely get away with that more over three-miles than two.

Finally, Hurricane Fly. Captain Cee Bee (pictured) has finished behind him five times with Sunday being the closest. At 13 now, many are pinpointing that as a negative for the Champion Hurdle favourite. Regardless of his age though, Captain Cee Bee is a horse who has always had a lot of class but had a problem or two too many to see him last at the very top level.

He has been a great servant to connections and it would be great if they can find another winning opportunity with him, but he is a horse that won a Supreme Novices' Hurdle and beat a subsequent Champion Hurdle winner by two lengths.

It is very harsh to knock Hurricane Fly – who missed the last – for beating a horse like Our Conor by a length and a half and Captain Cee Bee by two and three-quarters.

We often see horses run above their handicap marks in conditions races and then when they go back to try and win a handicap or a maiden they can't do it. It shouldn't take away from the winner.