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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Another Cheltenham champion ruled out as Annie Power to miss Champion Hurdle

Willie Mullins’ wondermare has suffered a leg injury.

The Power and the Glory: After her 2015 heartbreak, Annie returned to win the Champion Hurdle in 2016.
The Power and the Glory: After her 2015 heartbreak, Annie returned to win the Champion Hurdle in 2016.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ANNIE POWER HAS been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival and will not defend her Champion Hurdle title.

Willie Mullins’ wondermare was found to have a leg injury on Wednesday morning and could miss the rest of the season. The news was first reported by the Racing Post.

The nine-year-old had been a 2/1 shot to retain her two-mile crown on the opening day of this year’s festival, second in the betting only to stable-mate Faugheen.

“Annie Power worked yesterday and worked well but I wasn’t happy with her last night. Found to have had a leg injury this morning,” Mullins told the Racing Post.

“She is definitely out of Cheltenham and possibly the rest of the season, but too early to say.”

 

The news means that none of the reigning champions in Cheltenham’s four feature races will return to defend their titles this March. Sprinter Sacre and Don Cossack have both retired while Thistlecrack is the red-hot favourite for the Gold Cup following his switch to fences.

Annie Power’s Champion Hurdle win was one of the most memorable moments of the 2016 Festival. Twelve months earlier, she had looked a clear winner of the Mares’ Hurdle in the hands of Ruby Walsh when she came crashing down at the final fence, a fall which saved bookmakers an estimated £100 million.

But she underlined her class when she returned to the Cotswolds the following year, demolishing a strong field to win by four-and-a-half lengths, becoming only the fourth mare to win the Champion Hurdle and the first since 1994.

She followed up that victory by winning the Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National festival the following month, a performance that was even more dominant, but has been off the track since and it now looks possible that she will miss the entirety of the season.

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Niall Kelly

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