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Annie Power set for 2016 Champion Hurdle switch at Cheltenham Festival

  • Annie Power set to replace Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle for owner Rich Ricci
  • Find out the latest Cheltenham Festival running plans from trainer Willie Mullins
Ruby Walsh riding Annie Power (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Annie Power is set to be supplemented for the 2016 Stan James Champion Hurdle and start favourite after last year’s winner Faugheen was ruled out of the race by injury.

Faugheen and his Willie Mullins-trained stable companion Arctic Fire, who finished a length-and-a-half second in the Cheltenham Festival day one highlight, have both been ruled out of this season’s renewal with leg problems.

Mullins still has leading fancy Nichols Canyon and outsider Sempre Medici as possible runners but, in order to offset the loss of Faugheen, owner Rich Ricci plans to switch Annie Power to the Champion Hurdle from the Mares’ Hurdle later on the Tuesday card.

Last year, Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh were poised for a glorious opening-day four-timer until Annie Power crashed out at the last flight of the Mares’ Hurdle in one of the only two defeats she has experienced so far – the other came in the 2014 World Hurdle when runner-up.

Mullins said:
“I imagine Vroum Vroum Mag will be our horse for the Mares' Hurdle and if that's the case, I imagine Annie Power will be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle. 
“Going back two years she was quite a short price for the Champion Hurdle and we thought she was a Champion Hurdle horse back then when we had Hurricane Fly in it. You'd have to think maybe it's the year she should be running in the Champion Hurdle. 
“I don't think the shorter trip will be any problem to her. When you think of the horses we could run in the Champion Hurdle, you could count six of them I'd say, she's as fast as any of those. 
“The races that suit her have been over two-and-a-half miles. We went for the World Hurdle and it took a fair one to beat her on the day and that was her racing too fast - she didn't particularly settle. I think it might be easier for her going over two miles with the pace they will go - it will be easier to ride her anyway. She's good and keen. 
“She's only had one run this season but I think plenty of horses have won the Champion Hurdle with one run and she's hard on herself in her work, but I think that's good for her at this stage before Cheltenham. 
“I imagine she will wear a hood. It will make her easier to ride. With the pace they will go in the Champion Hurdle she may not need it, but we'll see how she's going.”


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Annie Power set for 2016 Champion Hurdle switch at Cheltenham Festival

Annie Power is set to be supplemented for the 2016 Stan James Champion Hurdle and start favourite after last year’s winner Faugheen was ruled out of the race by injury.

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