Aintree next on Annie Power’s agenda

Willie Mullins has confirmed Annie Power to be on course for next month’s Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle.
Aintree next on Annie Power’s agenda

The brilliant eight-year-old became the first mare in 22 years to claim the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham a week ago and she is set to take on the boys once more on the first day of the Grand National meeting on April 7.

Annie Power was one of three mares to strike gold at Prestbury Park for Ireland’s champion trainer, with Vroum Vroum Mag taking the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and Limini justifying the hype in the inaugural Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Mullins told “Vroum Vroum Mag is in very good order and we’ll most likely keep her for Punchestown, although she might get an entry at Aintree.

“As for Annie Power, I’m very pleased with how she’s come out of her race at Cheltenham and we’ll be looking at the Aintree Hurdle for her next.

“Limini was very impressive and she could run at Punchestown.

“The good thing is that Rich Ricci (owner) has no plans on retiring any of the three mares any time soon, so racing fans everywhere will get the chance to see them in action again next season.”

Mullins meanwhile is responsible for four of the 12 horses still in contention for the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The champion trainer claimed the Grade One prize with the brilliant Annie Power in 2013 and repeated the feat 12 months later with Adriana Des Mottes.

This year’s quartet includes Taunton Listed race winner Myska, who would need to bounce back from a disappointing run at Punchestown.

The other potential runners for Mullins are Miss Me Now, Monbeg Rose and Asthuria, with Cheltenham heroine Limini taken out.

Last year’s renewal went to the Harry Fry-trained Bitofapuzzle and the Seaborough handler has another major contender in the form of Jessber’s Dream.

The six-year-old was runner-up to Myska at Taunton, but raised her game to run out a most impressive winner of a Grade Two at Sandown in mid-February.

Gordon Elliott could be represented by Whistle Dixie, Myztique and Tocororo.

Cashelard Lady, Ten Times Better, Billy’s Hope and Jer’s Girl complete the confirmations.

Mullins’ Don Poli was the most high-profile withdrawal from the Crabbie’s Grand National following the latest acceptance stage, with 96 horses still in the reckoning.

The seven-year-old, trained by Willie Mullins, was around a 20-1 shot for the Aintree feature on April 9 after finishing third to Don Cossack in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup last week.

Other notable performers taken out include Valseur Lido, Foxrock, Sam Winner, Lord Windermere, Long Run and Shotgun Paddy.

Last year’s winner Many Clouds is 8-1 favourite with Betfred, the meeting’s official betting partner, with Silviniaco Conti and The Last Samuri next in at 12-1.

Outlander could bid to atone for his fall at the Cheltenham Festival in this Sunday’s Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old appeared a major contender for the JLT Novices’ Chase after winning his first three starts over fences and was still in with a shout when coming to grief four fences from the finish as stable companion Black Hercules went on to claim victory.

Outlander is one of five possible runners for the champion trainer in this weekend’s two-and-a-half-mile Grade One, with Vedettariat, McKinley, Rolly Baby and the mare Uranna also in contention.

King’s Odyssey is one of three British-trained entries, but is unlikely to make the journey. Trainer Evan Williams said: “I haven’t looked at the race as yet, but at the moment, I’d be inclined to leave it alone.”

Kerry Lee’s Kylemore Lough and the Venetia Williams-trained Otago Trail are the other possible raiders.

Gordon Elliott has left in Arkle Trophy fourth The Game Changer, as well as Lord Scoundrel and Killer Crow.

Rule The World and Sizing Platinum also feature among 15 confirmations.

Peter Roe, manager of Fairyhouse, said, “We are delighted to start the Fairyhouse Easter Festival with such a competitive and quality day’s racing featuring two Grade One races, the Ryanair Gold Cup and the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle, and the valuable Tattersalls Ireland Sales Bumper and it is great to see such a strong representation from British trainers.

“An added bonus for us all is that Gordon Elliott will parade his Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack before the start of the Ryanair Gold Cup.

“The ground is currently yielding and the forecast is for some rain towards the end of the week but for a mainly dry day on Sunday.”

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