Annie Power setback robs us of the perfect Champion Hurdle duel
The setback we endured with Annie Power this week was, unfortunately, the sort of thing anyone dealing with horses knows could be around the corner at any time.
It was something similar last year at this stage. She had not run and had not had a straightforward preparation for Cheltenham. Yet, Annie Power got there and won. We were hoping 12 months on would involve a repeat.
So as we stepped up her work, things were fine, until she strained that ligament that was revealed during the week. To lose a Champion Hurdle winner in the same season as the death of Vautour - and of course the departure of both Don Poli and Apple's Jade - is very disappointing. And that's an understatement.
With horses, that's how it is. And at least it's not like Vautour: she is still alive. We, as a stable, are in an extremely lucky position to have other very good horses. Think of the Bradstocks and what being without Coneygree means for them. We shouldn't and wouldn't be crying too much.
We'll give Annie Power a week or ten days to reassess her. Obviously, Vroum Vroum Mag - also owned by the Riccis - could step in but, as far as I am concerned, it may not matter. I think that both Faugheen and Annie Power would have met in the Champion Hurdle.
Willie alluded to that during the week. Remember that it was a different decision this year than it was 12 months ago. Back then, one was a Champion Hurdle winner; the other should have won a Mares' Hurdle.
Now, we had two previous winners of the Champion Hurdle. Another, Hurricane Fly, has his statue unveiled at Leoparstown on Sunday. Gail Carlisle, who looked after him at home, visited him recently at the National Stud and told us that he is the boss of the place.
He may have left Closutton but some things never change.