By Simon Jackson.
Willie Mullins believes the extended two miles of the Stan James Champion Hurdle will suit the favourite Annie Power who still needs to be supplemented for the Grade 1 contest.
Annie Power, the winner of 13 of her 15 starts, is best-priced at 2-1 (Paddy Power) for the two miles and 87 yard feature race of the first day at Cheltenham, where she bids to secure her first success at the Festival.
The eight-year-old’s two defeats both came at this meeting. In 2014 her previously unblemished record was ended when she was second to More Of That in the World Hurdle when sent off the 11-8 favourite.
The next year she was a high-profile casualty for punters when sent off the 1-2 favourite in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and appeared to have the race at her mercy when four lengths clear of her nearest rival, only to fall at the last fence.
The winner of over £350,000 in prize money holds entries this year in the World Hurdle, the Mares’ Hurdle and Champion Hurdle and is prominent in the betting for all three races.
“We have got to supplement Annie Power for the Stan James Champion Hurdle,” Mullins said at a stable visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday. “Vroum Vroum Mag looks a possible for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and, if that is the case, I would think Annie will run in the Champion.
“Going back two years, Annie Power was quite a short price for the Champion Hurdle. We thought she was a Champion Hurdle horse that year but we obviously had Hurricane Fly and a few others in the race.
“I don’t think the trip will be a problem for her. We have six horses here who, if they were with other yards, would be aimed at the Champion Hurdle and she is as quick as any of them.
“I think it might actually be easier for her to race over two miles with the sort of pace they will be going. It will be easier to ride her anyhow.
“I would imagine she will wear the hood. We will see how she is going before but it wouldn’t cost anything to wear it.”
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