As soon as she strode past the winning post to claim the OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster two weeks ago, the questions started being asked.
The million-dollar question which everyone wants the answer to: which of the hurdles will Annie Power go for?
With the roar of the Cheltenham crowd only four weeks away there are still some big issues to decide, with the race choice of Willie Mullins’ mare one of the hot topics of debate.
Owner Rich Ricci said last Sunday that the decision of which race to enter will be entirely down to Mullins, and there will be no fall out regardless of the result.
So, let’s look at the two options.
With Annie Power regularly demolishing rivals over two miles, the Champion Hurdle seems the obvious choice distance wise. She won at the same track on New Year’s day which was run over 2m 4f so she knows the track and knows how to hit home hard up the hill which is always crucial in the big races at the festival.
The fear however for many, myself included, is the phenomenal array of talent on display in the same race. We all know about Hurricane Fly, who proved he is a tough old cookie when narrowly beating Our Conor, who will also challenge The Fly again in the Champion Hurdle, over at Leopardstown two weeks ago.
Throw into the equation the likes of My Tent or Yours, Jezki and The New One, and this is a race which looks as though it could be anyone’s for the taking.
It’s the punter’s race of the festival if Annie Power and Ruby Walsh are thrown in to the mix as well, though I have my doubts as to whether she will.
Last week Rubi Ball, Walsh’s choice of mount for the World Hurdle, was ruled out for the season by Mullins, and Annie Power may be included in the feature race of the Thursday as a ready-made replacement.
Although a step up for her (three miles), Mullins and Ricci both believe she is one for staying chases and it also sets up the opportunity for a mouth-watering duel with Big Bucks, who finished a well-placed third on his return from injury in the Cleeves Hurdle in January.
Even Walsh isn’t shedding any light on the route for his expected mount.
This week he said: “I don’t think either race would inconvenience her. Does she have enough experience over two miles for a Champion Hurdle or do you want to expose her to At Fishers Cross and Big Buck’s over three miles?
“Thankfully, I don’t have to make that decision.”
If left to the punters to decide, you would think most would choose the Champion Hurdle for Annie Power as it’s arguably the most prestigious race of the festival this year.
So the biggest mystery currently in racing remains unanswered. But with the Festival looming ever closer it is only a matter of time before a decision has to be made on Annie Power. The public are waiting and licking their lips.
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