Mullins weighs up Annie options

Willie Mullins

Annie Annie Power could tackle the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival – if she stays over hurdles this term.

Trainer Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci have yet to decide on plans for the six-year-old, who relinquished her unbeaten record when finishing second behind More Of That in the World Hurdle last term.

She bounced back with victory in the Mares Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival and Mullins admits the upgrading of the Cheltenham event makes it an obvious option if Annie Power does not go chasing.

“We’ve still not made a decision on whether she stays over hurdles or goes over fences, but if she does remain hurdling then the fact that it is now a Grade One would obviously make us think long and hard about her participation,” Mullins told OLBG.

Should Annie Power head over fences, Mullins would still have a leading contender at Cheltenham as Glens Melody stays in training this term.

The six-year-old chased home stablemate and six-time race winner Quevega last year and is a previous Grade One winner herself.

Mullins said: “Glens Melody stays in training and will attempt to go one better than last season where she ran a tremendous race behind Quevega. She’s not ready for a run just yet, but we may well bring her over for one of OLBG’s sponsored races in the new year.”

Meanwhile, trainer Noel Meade reports Monksland is ready to return to action, with a tentative decision having been made to keep him over hurdles.

The seven-year-old has not been seen since December 2012, when he won the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.

And while novice chasing had been discussed, Monksland’s owner, Patricia Hunt, also has Apace Stronghold for that division and Meade would rather keep them apart.

Meade said: “We struggled with him last season, but it was all small issues, nothing serious. We’ve more or less decided to stay over hurdles with him.

“The main reason is that his owners also have Apache Stronghold, who is going over fences, and we didn’t want to be in a situation where we had the two of them going for the same races.

“There is a very good programme for him (Monksland) in staying over hurdles, as his form reads very well.”


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