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Mullins hoping to rule the World with Annie Power

Unbeaten mare Annie Power is the new 15/8 favourite with Coral for the World Hurdle after trainer Willie Mullins confirmed the stayers’ contest as her Festival target.

She will be bidding to become the first mare to win the race since Rose Ravine in 1985, and there are positive and negatives as far as her profile is concerned.

The positives are that the last 18 winners of the World Hurdle had all been in the first four in the betting, and six favourites have also triumphed in the last 11 years.

The last 13 winners had all won of finished second on their previous start, and had also not been out of the first two on all their earlier starts in the season.

Annie Power ticks all those boxes, but Irish trained horses don’t have a good record in the race.

Last year’s winner Solwhit was the first to triumph for the Emerald Isle in 18 years, and another negative is that Annie Power also unproven over the 3m trip.

Seventeen of the last 20 winners of the World Hurdle had also run at the Festival 12 months earlier, and that is also something which Annie Power does not have on her CV.

The six-year-old is, however, unbeaten in 10 starts and rated by many to be the best mare to come out of Ireland since the brilliant Dawn Run.

By going for the World Hurdle instead of the Champion Hurdle or Mares’ Hurdle, she is also assured of the services of Ruby Walsh and this looks to have been a key factor in deciding on her target.

Speaking after racing at Leopardstown, Mullins finally ended weeks of speculation over which race she would run in.

He said: “All being well, and if everything goes right, Ruby will probably ride Hurricane Fly in the Champion, Quevega in the mares’ race and Annie Power in the stayers’.

“We’ve had a good chat with the owners and at that the moment that’s the way it looks, they are all happy on that score.”

The Rich Ricci-owned daughter of Shirocco will receive a 7lb mares’ allowance in the World Hurdle, and Ruby Walsh has gone on record as saying that he can’t see any horse being capable of giving her that amount of weight.

She has now usurped Big Buck’s at the head of the betting for the World Hurdle, with Paul Nicholl’s star having been eased to 9/4 (from 15/8) with Coral.

The firm’s spokesman David Stevens said: “Although Annie Power will be tackling three miles for the first time, she won impressively at Cheltenham over an extended two and a half miles in soft ground on New Year’s Day, and we favour her to extend her unbeaten record under Ruby Walsh in what could be one of the races of the week as they take on the jockey’s old ally Big Buck’s.”