Monday 22 January 2018

Mullins planning to unleash 'Power' on Aintree feature

Willie Mullins. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Willie Mullins. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Willie Mullins has confirmed that Champion Hurdle heroine Annie Power is on course for next month's Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle.

The eight-year-old became the first mare in 22 years to claim Cheltenham's opening day showpiece last week and she's set to take on the boys again in the feature on the first day of the Grand National meeting - a race which could also attract stablemate Nichols Canyon.

The Rich Ricci-owned chestnut was one of three mares to strike gold at the Festival for the Closutton maestro, with Vroum Vroum Mag taking the OLBG Mares' Hurdle and Limini justifying the hype in the inaugural Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

"Vroum Vroum Mag is in very good order and we'll most likely keep her for Punchestown, although she might get an entry at Aintree," said Mullins.

"As for Annie Power, I'm very pleased with how she's come out of her race at Cheltenham and we'll be looking at the Aintree Hurdle for her next.

"Limini was very impressive and she could run at Punchestown. The good thing is that Rich Ricci has no plans on retiring any of the three mares any time soon, so fans will get the chance to see them in action again next season."

Mullins is responsible for four of the 12 horses still in contention for Sunday's Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, which he won in 2013 with Annie Power and repeated the feat 12 months later with Adriana Des Mottes. This year's quartet includes Taunton Listed race winner Myska, which needs to bounce back to form after a poor run at Punchestown.

The other potential runners for Mullins are Miss Me Now, Monbeg Rose and Asthuria, with Cheltenham heroine Limini taken out. Last year's renewal went to the Harry Fry-trained Bitofapuzzle and the Seaborough handler has another major contender in the form of Jessber's Dream.

The Mullins-trained Don Poli was the most high-profile withdrawal from the Crabbie's Grand National following the latest acceptance stage, with 96 horses still in the reckoning.

The seven-year-old - owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown operation - was a 20/1 shot for the Aintree feature on April 9 after finishing third to Don Cossack in the Gold Cup last Thursday.

Others taken out include Valseur Lido, Foxrock, Sam Winner, Lord Windermere, Long Run and Shotgun Paddy. Last year's winner Many Clouds is 8/1 favourite with Betfred, with Silviniaco Conti and The Last Samuri next at 12/1.

Meanwhile, Jim Bolger will see how Herald The Dawn is training over the next couple of weeks before deciding to consider a prep run ahead of the English 2,000 Guineas.

Bolger reports the son of New Approach to have thrived during the winter but feels he needs to improve if he's to worry favourite Air Force Blue, which beat him three lengths in the National Stakes at the Curragh.

"He's got a lot stronger and he's much thicker then he was last year, but I wouldn't think any higher. He's a very strong looking animal," Bolger stated. "We'll be upping the pace with him in the next few weeks. If he's working lazily we'll have to consider a run beforehand, but otherwise he'll go straight there."

Irish Independent

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