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Will Annie Power Be Ready For Cheltenham?

Article by Phil Barrs of SBAT.com

Annie Power wasn’t expected to run before this year’s Cheltenham Festival, after trainer Willie Mullins and owner Susannah Ricci had previously said that the star mare didn’t have time in the schedule to run before March. So it was somewhat of a surprise when she was entered to run at Punchestown. Annie Power set off a 1/20 odds-on favorite. Jockey Ruby Walsh never once had to get serious on Annie Power, as it looked as if the mare was just carelessly galloping around her paddock. With three to jump Annie Power was the best part of 25 lengths clear of the field. The last furlong Annie Power just cantered home.

Many questions were asked about Annie Power before her last outing at Punchestown in May 2015. Only two months before she had fallen when in a commanding position, in the Mares Hurdle during the 2015 Cheltenham Festival. At Punchestown, she silenced some of the doubters, as Ruby Walsh cantered round onboard Annie Power. The field struggled to get anywhere near here. The margin of victory was over ten lengths, as she seemed to enjoy the gallop.

The seven-year-old has won, an impressive 13 of her 15 runs for trainer Willie Mullins. Annie Power’s only two defeats have come at Cheltenham, during the last two festivals. In 2014, Annie Power was beaten when she was the odds-on favorite in the World Hurdle, that day Annie Power was second behind More Of That. Last year Trainer Willie Mullins was enduring a great first day of the 2015 festival: Faugheen, Douvan and Un De Sceaux had already tasted victory, with Annie Power the odds on favorite to make it a fourfold for Mullins. Ruby Walsh had settled Annie Power well, as she moved to the front of the field. Walsh wasn’t off the bridle, as Annie Power was two lengths in front with only the last to jump. Disaster struck when Annie Power had a heavy fall at the last when victory was in her grasp. Having had two disappointing runs at Cheltenham Annie Power need to deliver this year. Otherwise, she will always have the monkey on her back, of not being able to run at the biggest racing festival in the UK. With the news that Faugheen has been ruled of this year’s festival, trainer Willie Mullins will now how to decide in which race his star mare runs. Until today, she looked sure to run in the Mares Hurdle, but now she may run in the Champion Hurdle instead of the injured Faugheen.

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