Annie Power will defeat Big Buck’s and her other World Hurdle rivals on Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival
It took a long time for Willie Mullins to confirm the likely destination of star mare of Annie Power, although all the signs pointed towards the unbeaten charge lining up in the 2014 World Hurdle considering stable-mates Hurricane Fly and Quevega are going for wins number three and six in Champion Hurdle and Mares’ Hurdle respectively.
Annie Power has never run over three miles in her career although there doesn’t seem to be much concern that the six-year-old will get the trip, with a mares allowance already giving her an advantage over her fellow runners, while she apparently has bundles of stamina.
Since being declared for this race, the prices have shortened although you can still get 15/8 about the Mullins star beating Big Buck’s et al, with this race considered to be far less competitive than the Champion Hurdle where Hurricane Fly will need to beat the likes of The New One, My Tent Or Yours and Our Conor.
Big Buck’s is bidding to win this staying race for a record fifth occasion and Paul Nicholls declared himself pleased with the horse’s run in the recent Cleeve Hurdle despite the eleven-year-old finishing third behind Knockara Beau and At Fishers Cross.
However, that was the horse’s first defeat since 29 November 2008 and we might see the unfortunate decline of a true Cheltenham legend thanks to a super mare in the race who could be set to go over timber next season.
Ruby Walsh was the jockey who steered Big Buck’s to all those memorable World Hurdle victories, although he will now be on board Annie Power for the race and claimed to have mixed emotions when it comes to this race.
“It’s a big decision and I hope it’s the right one” said Walsh. “No-one can be 100 per cent certain that she’ll stay the 3m until she’s run over the trip. But we’re as confident as we can be that she’ll stay.
“I’d prefer if Big Buck’s didn’t finish second to us but if Annie Power doesn’t win than I hope Big Buck’s does. But that’s emotional -and you have to leave emotions out of these things.”
At Fishers Cross is a viable contender having ran a strong race at Cheltenham last time out, although the fact that the Rebecca Curtis horse couldn’t oblige on heavy ground tells its own story, while Rule The World should be outpaced.
RECOMMENDATION: Annie Power to win @ 15/8 (William Hill)