Annie Power heads strong Irish entry for Mares’ Hurdle

Annie Power is among 20 remaining entries for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival next Tuesday.

Annie Power heads strong Irish entry for Mares’ Hurdle

For only the second time since its inception in 2008, Quevega will not be lining up after she created history winning six in a row 12 months ago.

In her retirement, Willie Mullins appears to have a ready-made replacement in Annie Power, second in the World Hurdle last season.

Mullins is also likely to run Glens Melody, narrowly beaten by Quevega last year, while he has also left in Analifet.

Leading the home charge is Nicky Henderson’s Polly Peachum, with Harry Fry having left in Bitofapuzzle – although the Dorset handler has repeatedly stated she will only run if the ground is soft.

Carole’s Spirit, Centasia, Little King Robin, L’Unique and her Alan King-trained stablemate The Pirate’s Queen all remain in the mix.

The Govaness, Swing Bowler, Hidden Identity, Dark Spirit and Emily Gray are others engaged.

Hot favourite Un De Sceaux heads a list of 19 horses to stand their ground in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy next Tuesday.

Willie Mullins’ charge is a general 4-7 chance ahead of the race but he has not scared off many rivals, with the likes of Paul Nicholls’ Vibrato Valtat, the Nicky Henderson-trained Josses Hill and Gordon Elliott’s Clarcam still in the mix.

Mullins has extra strings to his bow in Vautour and Adriana Des Mottes, while Mick Channon’s Sgt Reckless is another of the leading home hopes.

Melodic Rendezvous finished seventh in the Champion Hurdle last year but may try his Festival luck over fences.

God’s Own was a Grade One winner at Punchestown last May and may bid to add a Festival win to his CV.

Chris Pea Green, Cold March, Court Minstrel, Dunraven Storm, Sail By The Sea, Smashing, Ted Veale, Three Kingdoms, Top Gamble and Turn Over Sivola are also still in the mix.

Douvan spearheads a potential 17-strong field for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, also on Tuesday.

Willie Mullins’ five-year-old will be a popular winner of the opening race of the meeting as he is one of a clutch of hot favourites for the County Carlow handler. Douvan has excelled in two starts since his transfer from France, having won with ease at Gowran before claiming Grade Two honours at Punchestown in January.

Mullins could also be represented by Alvisio Ville, McKinley, Nichols Canyon, Outlander, Shaneshill and Tell Us More.Just behind Douvan in the betting is the Nicky Henderson-trained L’Ami Serge and Harry Fry’s Jollyallan, and they, too, have stood firm at the confirmation stage. Seedling and Qewy are quietly fancied by some and are likely to represent Warren Greatrex and John Ferguson respectively.

Irish interest is also spiked by the presence of two Tony Martin runners, Okotoks and Velvet Maker, Bentelimar from Shay Barry’s yard and the Henry de Bromhead-trained Sizing John. Aso and Some Plan complete the list at this stage.

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