Ruby Walsh celebrating on Annie Power after winning the Champion Hurdle
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
ANNIE POWER, a decisive winner of the Stan James Champion Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, is one of six declared runners in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle on Thursday.
She is just the most prominent of the expected strong squad that Willie Mullins will send to Aintree’s three-day Grand National meeting as he seeks a first British trainers’ championship.
Annie Power will be joined in the Aintree Hurdle by stablemate Nichols Canyon, third in the Champion Hurdle. My Tent Or Yours and The New One, second and fourth respectively in the same race, are also in the Aintree Hurdle field.
The final two members of the field are Camping Ground, who finished down the field at Cheltenham, and Ascot Hurdle runner-up Court Minstrel.
Though the Aintree Hurdle is run over half a mile further than the Champion, a similar outcome is expected. Annie Power, runner-up in the World Hurdle two years ago, was made 4-7 favourite by Paddy Power soon after declarations were revealed, with Nichols Canyon next best at 9-2.
The same firm went 8-1 about My Tent Or Yours, who has never run much beyond two miles, and 9-1 The New One, who won this race in 2014.
Cue Card leads nine for Bowl redemption
The Betfred Bowl does not have the winner of the Cheltenham equivalent, Don Cossack, among its nine declarations, but there is obvious interest in seeing how Cue Card, who fell three out in the Timico Gold Cup, fares against that race’s second and third, Djakadam and Don Poli.
Those two represent another double-barrelled assault on the meeting by Mullins. Cue Card is a best-priced 11-10 favourite with Paddy Power to repel the challenge, while sponsors BetFred go 4-5.
Paul Nicholls’ own efforts to hold onto the trainers’ championship are demonstrated in the Bowl field, with Saphir Du Rheu set to run over fences for the first time since finishing fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November.
The Bowl field is made up by Dynaste, Houblon Des Obeaux, Irish Cavalier (who will wear blinkers for the first time), Taquin Du Seuil and Wakanda. Gold Cup fifth Irish Cavalier is the shortest of that group, available at 20-1.
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