Friday 19 January 2018

Annie powered up for redemption

Annie Power crashes out at the final flight at Cheltenham
Annie Power crashes out at the final flight at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins admits this season has been a frustrating one for Annie Power, but she can end it on a high in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

Regarded in some quarters as the most talented National Hunt mare since Dawn Run, she had the OLGB Mares' Hurdle at her mercy at Cheltenham in March only to crash out at the last flight.

Mullins already had three winners in the bag courtesy of Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen that day, and Annie Power was the last leg of accumulators everywhere.

Having her first run of the season after meeting with a setback just hours before her intended reappearance in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle in November, she had swept into an unassailable advantage before diving at the flight and coming down, saving the bookmakers millions.

There was a silver lining for Mullins, as he still won the race with the now-retired Glens Melody.

"She's had a frustrating season. We were getting her ready for Fairyhouse and then she just got a little stress fracture, but came back right for Cheltenham," Mullins told TG4.

"She was going very well when she came down at the last and I just wasn't happy with her going into Aintree, so hopefully we have her right for Punchestown. She seems very well at the moment."

On official ratings Annie Power has a yawning 20lb in hand of her nearest rival, stablemate Analifet.

Away from Closutton some nice mares take their chance, with Jessica Harrington hoping the rain stays away for Rock On The Moor.

She beat Analifet at Punchestown but was floundering in soft ground in Grade One company behind Bitofapuzzle last time out.

Harrington said: "I hope the ground stays good for her. The better the ground the better she'll like it. She's in great form.

"She got a bit stuck in the ground at Fairyhouse and maybe two and a half miles was just a bit too far for her. I think two and a quarter is just perfect for her."

Kevin Prendergast's Katie T won the valuable Boylesports Hurdle in January and tuned up for this with a win on the Flat.

There are two British raiders - the Charlie Longsdon-trained Kalane, winner of a decent race at Newbury, and Neil Mulholland's Pass The Time, sixth behind Glens Melody at Cheltenham.

The consistent Jennies Jewel completes the field.

Press Association

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