Annie Power odds-on for Sunday’s Hatton’s Grace
Annie Power ridden by Rugby Walsh comes home to win the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Champion Hurdle in May. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Star mare Annie Power could start the shortest-priced favourite for Sunday’s €80,000 Bar One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle since the mighty Istabraq famously got turned over by Limestone Lad at odds of 1-7 in 1999.
Immediately installed as short as 1-5 by the sponsors of Sunday’s triple-Grade One “Premier Jumps Weekend” festival, Annie Power is an overwhelming favourite to beat a maximum of half-a-dozen rivals headed by Jessica Harrington’s shock Punchestown festival winner Jetson who surprised another Willie Mullins trained star mare, Quevega, last Spring.
Harrington supplied Jezki to score an odds-on Hatton’s Grace success last year while Limestone Lad scored the third of three victories in the race at 8-15 a dozen years ago. Istabraq landed the two and a half mile feature at 1-5 in 1998 but a year later was involved in one modern racing’s biggest turn-ups as the legendary champion failed to overhaul the then emerging Limestone Lad.
Willie Mullins will also be represented by the 2012 winner Zaidpour on Sunday and has four entries for the Drinmore Novice Chase as well as three for the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.
However, Irish racing’s dominant trainer is not alone in having contenders for all three top-flight prizes and there will be huge sentimental support for Sandra Hughes who has confirmed The Tullow Tank for the Drinmore and looks likely to have a Hatton’s Grace starter too after Gigginstown’s Lieutenant Colonel was supplemented into the race at a cost of €8,000.
Hughes has another Gigginstown entry, All Hell Let Loose, in the Royal Bond, a race her late father Dessie won in 2002 with Hardy Eustace.
Lieutenant Colonel scored an impressive 10-length success in a Grade Two novice over the Hatton’s Grace course and distance last season but was last seen finishing runner up to Sizing Granite in a novice chase at Naas at the start of the month.
The Tullow Tank scored the first of two Grade One victories over hurdles last season in the Royal Bond but faces a major task trying to follow that up in a Drinmore Chase which has attracted 17 entries, including seven from Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud alone.
O’Leary has won two of the last three Drinmore renewals and has a powerful pick this time with Valseur Lido already confirmed on course for the race, and possibly joined by The Tullow Tank’s ex-stablemate Real Steel.
The latter was moved to Mouse Morris from the banned Philip Fenton last month while The Tullow Tank was moved to the Hughes yard during the summer. The horse named after rugby international Seán O’Brien impressed on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse three weeks ago and he is again due to be ridden by Adrian Heskin.
Just two Grade One races have been run to date during the current campaign in Ireland and Fairyhouse’s authorities are anticipating a large crowd on Sunday.
Bar One Racing bet: 1-5 Annie Power, 5-1 Jetson, 7-1 Zaidpour, 10-1 Little King Robin’ 12-1 Tiger Roll, 16 -1 Lieutenant Colonel.