Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Annie Powers Her Way to Champion Hurdle Crown

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Annie Powers Her Way to Champion Hurdle Crown

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Robson

WILLIE Mullins emulated his father by training a mare to win the Stan James Champion Hurdle as Annie Power blew her rivals away in style at Cheltenham, setting a new course record in the process.

Dawn Run, trained by Paddy Mullins, won the race back in 1984 and famously went on the win the Gold Cup two years later.

That feat means Dawn Run is rightly regarded as the best National Hunt mare of all time - but Annie Power is quickly approaching that sort of status herself, although the salient point of the race was that she was only rerouted to the championship event after her stablemate, last year's winner Faugheen, was ruled out through injury.

Throw in the fact that the last time she took on the boys, in the World Hurdle two years ago, she was defeated by More Of That and her season had been interrupted by setbacks, there were some doubters. Because of all that there were plenty willing to take her on, despite being in receipt of a 7lb mares' allowance in what was widely regarded as a sub-standard renewal, but she was still sent off the 5-2 favourite.

A costly faller at the last when looking certain to win the Mares' Hurdle 12 months ago, there were plenty who felt she was owed success this time after owner Rich Ricci stumped up PS20,000 to supplement her for her new target.

Only three mares in the history of the two-mile championship had won it, the last being Flakey Dove in 1994, and since the introduction of the mares' race, less and less will now surely try.

Just for good measure, though, Mullins (pictured right) and Ricci also had that covered this year in the shape of Vroum Vroum Mag later on the card.

Ruby Walsh was determined to make it a strong test and after The New One led to the first hurdle where he jumped right, Annie Power took over and was never headed. My Tent Or Yours put in a strong bid in his first race for 703 days, running gallantly to take the runner-up spot, four and a half lengths behind the winner.

Nichols Canyon was a head back in third to give Mullins a one-three.

Mullins said: "I don't know how good she is, but she's a hell of a horse. …

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