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Classy mare Annie Power to remain over hurdles

Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins has confirmed top-class mare Annie Power will remain over hurdles this season, and although no firm plans have been made the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival looks the obvious long-term target.

The six-year-old has won 11 of her 12 starts, suffering her only defeat when a 1 3/4 length runner-up behind More Of That in the World Hurdle at the Festival back in March.

The daughter of Shirocco was readily brushed aside by Jonjo O’Neill’s rapidly improving and unbeaten hurdler, and it would be a brave man who bet on her overturning the form at the Festival next March.

Indeed, it would be a surprise if connections went down that route and that leaves the Champion Hurdle and the Mares’ Hurdle as possible targets for Annie Power.

There has to be a big question as to whether Annie will have the speed for the former, and her owner Rich Ricci already has the ante post favourite for the contest in Faugheen who is currently 11/4 with Coral.

That leaves the Mares’ Hurdle, which has been upgraded to Grade 1 status but represents by far the easiest option and looks the logical choice.

Mullins saddled Quevega to win the contest for a record six successive years between 2009 and 2014, but she will not be back to defend her crown after being retired following defeat at the hands of Jetson at the Punchestown Festival.
That leaves the way clear for an up and coming type, and Annie Power looks the ideal candidate.

Annie is officially rated 162, just 5lb lower than Quevega at her peak, and her mark is already higher than what her stable companion was rated when winning her first four Mares’ Hurdles.