Willie Mullins taking his time over Annie Power’s future

The nine-year-old mare will not race at Cheltenham this year after suffering injury

Annie Power ridden by Ruby Walsh on the way to winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Annie Power ridden by Ruby Walsh on the way to winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Willie Mullins will not rush into making any decisions on Annie Power’s long-term future following the disappointing news the mare would miss this season’s Cheltenham Festival through injury.

Having finished runner-up in the 2014 World Hurdle and fallen at the last with the Mares’ Hurdle at her mercy 12 months later, the popular nine-year-old brought the house down when breaking her Festival duck in becoming the first mare in 22 years to claim Champion Hurdle glory last March.

She followed up in style at Aintree the following month, but has not been seen in competitive action since.

Mullins revealed last week Annie Power was nearing a return to action, with a mares’ hurdle at Punchestown on February 22nd pencilled in as a potential comeback target and springboard to Cheltenham.

However, he revealed on Wednesday morning she would miss the showpiece meeting.

“It’s disappointing. She worked well yesterday and we were very pleased with her,” said the champion trainer.

“I was away all day yesterday working horses on the Curragh and they told me yesterday evening they weren’t happy with her.

“We just confirmed that this morning — that she has an injury on the other leg, the good leg for want of a better word.

“She’s definitely out of Cheltenham and whether she runs again this season, I don’t know. We’d have to see the extent of it, but I’d probably say not.

“Normally when a horse gets an injury like that we give them a week or 10 days and then reassess and I think that’s what we’ll do.

“She’s going to be a huge loss to us this season.”

With Annie Power ruled out, her illustrious stable companion Faugheen is the hot favourite to regain the Champion Hurdle crown he claimed in 2015.

He missed out last March after suffering injury following his victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The nine-year-old has been sidelined since, but is on course to make his comeback in the same race this weekend.

Mullins said: “Faugheen worked yesterday and will run on Sunday.

“We’re happy with him, and I’m hoping for a big run. He has the rating for the race, but is going to meet race-fit horses.

“He’s run on good ground in Cheltenham and run on good ground in Punchestown, so I don’t think that’s a problem, and there is some rain forecast before Sunday.”

Faugheen is set to be part of a formidable team of weekend runners for the Closutton maestro.

Un De Sceaux is on course to run in the rescheduled Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday, while Vroum Vroum Mag, who already holds six entries at Cheltenham including the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup, is bound for the olbg.com Doncaster Mares’ Hurdle on the same afternoon.

“Un De Sceaux goes for the Clarence House in Cheltenham and Alechi Inois goes for the cross-country,” said Mullins.

“Vroum Vroum Mag is likely to go to Doncaster. I didn’t declare her for tomorrow (at Gowran) with a view to running on Saturday.

“Whiteout has gone to Huntingdon already for the mares’ hurdle there on Friday, so it’ll be a busy weekend in England as well as Ireland.”

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