Willie Mullins’ long wait to land the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle came to an end in emphatic fashion as Annie Power once again evoked memories of the magnificent mare Dawn Run with another display nothing short of sublime.
After crushing her rivals in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month, the eight-year-old produced a performance of equal quality to follow up in the Grade One prize and become the first horse since the mighty Istabraq in 1999 to complete the double
Having moved effortlessly into the lead heading out for the final circuit, shortly after the departure of 2014 winner The New One, the 4-11 favourite barely got out of cruise control for the remainder of two-and-a-half-mile contest.
After mastering Nichols Canyon early down the home straight, it was left to My Tent Or Yours to attempt to go with the eventual winner, but the white flag was soon being waved by the Nicky Henderson-trained runner on the journey to the final flight.
Despite putting in a short jump at the last there was to be no drama, with Walsh only needing to nudge his mount out to claim an 18-length success from My Tent Or Yours, with Nichols Canyon a further nine lengths back in third.
Victory not only saw Annie Power match Dawn Run in completing the same feat she achieved back in 1984, but it saw the Closutton handler join his father, Paddy, and brother Tom in clinching a race that had previously eluded him.
Mullins said: “That was only her third run of the season, so I thought she might have improved since Cheltenham, or at the very least she wouldn’t have gone backwards. We’ll certainly have a look at Punchestown for her now, that’s certainly all that would be left for her in Britain or Ireland.”
Meanwhile Cue Card gained glorious redemption for his costly Cheltenham fall with a stunning display in the Betfred Bowl.
Cue Card travelled with his trademark panache and jumped accurately for the most part in the hands of Paddy Brennan.
The Willie Mullins-trained pair of Djakadam and Don Poli, second and third respectively in the Gold Cup, raised the stakes heading down the back straight, injecting pace in an apparent attempt to draw the sting or a mistake out of the market leader.
But there was to be no repeat of his Cheltenham blip, with Cue Card covering the move with ease and powering clear from the third-last to score by nine lengths.
Don Poli reversed form with his stable companion to fill the runner-up spot.
Tizzard: “I’ve said all season he’s in the form of his life and he’s just shown it again today.
“He has such an engine on him. He was fantastic.
“I think we might have won (the Gold Cup) - it felt like one got away - but you’ve got to jump the fences and he didn’t at Cheltenham.
“We just thank god he got up and he trotted up the next morning as sound as a pound, as if he hadn’t had a race.
“It’s a relief with him, as we almost expect him to do it. I’ve never seen him look so well as he did today.
“It was so disappointing what happened at Cheltenham and I’m just so proud of the horse to come back and do that.”
Premier League Player of the season
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