Annie Power clears final flight for facile win at Punchestown
Annie Power returned to her majestic best when easing to victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
In command when coming to grief at the last in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham, she was sent off the 2-9 favourite to atone and travelled beautifully in front for Ruby Walsh.
After asking the mare to lengthen rounding the home turn, Annie Power made no mistake at the last this time and cruised clear to beat fellow Willie Mullins inmate Analifet.
Walsh admitted his relief after Annie Power safely negotiated all the obstacles to get back on the winning trail.
He said: "She's better going left-handed, she's always jumped out to her left but she made all and it's a strong old headwind down the back.
"She wasn't exactly facing it but you couldn't blame her for that. She jumped well on the whole and I guess once bitten, twice shy.
"At the second-last I was thinking 'happy days this will keep me honest to the last' but then I could here them dropping off and dropping off and I was thinking 'not again!'."
Annie Power was having just her second start of the campaign and Walsh was pleased to see her back on form.
He said: "As she's got older, she's lost a little bit of speed but I wouldn't mind that. She has a good cruising speed.
"She's had a very interrupted season, she had that little problem in December before the Hatton's Grace Hurdle, we got her back to Cheltenham where she crashed and fell.
"She wasn't sparkling at Aintree time, but just in the last 10 days she's really come together and started to work like the mare she is.
"It's great to have her back - (it's a) pity she's had such a light campaign."
Mullins may consider running Annie Power again before she departs on a summer break, but he too was delighted to see her back in the winner's enclosure.
He said: "She's back and we'll have to decide whether to go to France or put her away.
"She was definitely not herself after the fall at Cheltenham and I was concerned after her first few bits of work that she might have pulled something in her neck and was not letting herself go.
"However, Ruby pushed her a bit more in a piece of work and she was better, and she's worked well in her last few bits.
"Analifet was fantastic as well as she made a bad mistake at the second-last."
Mullins saddled the first two home in the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle as Petite Parisienne ran out a wide-margin winner over Buiseness Sivola.
Partnered by Bryan Cooper, the 11-4 favourite could be called the winner some way out as she was travelling much the best of the 10 runners.
She was clear in front at the last and while she crashed through the obstacle, Petite Parisienne managed to recover and push on again to win by eight and a half lengths.
Cooper, who is a close friend of injured jockey Robbie McNamara said: "She's a tough filly, she loves soft ground and stays further as well. She will only get better next year.
"I was moaning things weren't going right earlier in the weekend but things could be a lot worse."