Mullins readies stars for opening day of Aintree

ANNIE POWER Ridden by Ruby Walsh

Annie Power is set to be part of a strong Mullins string heading to Aintree

  PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)  

WILLIE MULLINS dominated proceedings on the opening day of last month’s Cheltenham Festival and looks intent on repeating the feat at next Thursday’s first day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

The Closutton trainer, who is now odds-on to land a first UK trainers title having closed the gap on leader Paul Nicholls to only £156,179, has each of his dominant winners from the Tuesday of the Festival entered up on Merseyside.

Douvan, a scintillating winner of the Racing Post Arkle, is set to line up in the Grade 1 Merseyrail Manifesto Novices’ Chase, alongside stablemate Shaneshill.

Sizing John, who once again chased home Douvan at Cheltenham, is among the entries too, as are Garde La Victoire and L’Ami Serge.

Annie Power scored an emotional victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle and will bid to follow up in the Grade 1 Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle, in which OLBG Mares’ Hurdle winner Vroum Vroum Mag could provide fascinating opposition.

Nicholls Canyon and Sempre Medici also feature among a phenomenally strong quartet of hopefuls for the race.

Strong hand in the Bowl

The potential for Mullins dominance also extends to the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl Chase, in which dual Timico Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam could line up alongside Don Poli, third in the Cheltenham feature behind Don Cossack last month.

Vautour was controversially re-routed to the Ryanair Chase, which he won emphatically, and he too could feature in the Bowl, as could stablemates Valseur Lido and Boston Bob.

The race will also provide an opportunity for Cue Card to put his fall at the third-last fence in the Gold Cup behind him, with rider Paddy Brennan having admitted he may never get over the agonising mistake.

Kate to take on own sex

Augusta Kate, who was sent off the 7-2 favourite for last month’s Champion Bumper when finishing seventh behind Ballyandy, will bid to get back to winning ways in the Grade 2 Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Mullins’ opening day raiding party is rounded out by Marasonnien, who has an option in the Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase, having won under rules at Gowran and a point-to-point at Ballyragget last month.

 

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