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Unbeaten Annie Power saunters to Doncaster success

Updated: Saturday, 25 Jan 2014 17:16 | Comments

The exciting Annie Power survived a mistake at the last to score decisively and maintain her unbeaten record
The exciting Annie Power survived a mistake at the last to score decisively and maintain her unbeaten record

Annie Power is certain to be a major force at the Cheltenham Festival but her target remains unlikely to be decided until close to the premier jumps meeting despite taking her perfect record to 10 in the OLBG.com Mares' Hurdle at Doncaster.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old has the Champion Hurdle over two miles, the World Hurdle over three miles and even the mares' race dominated by Quevega as potential options in March, and this was no more than a most impressive stroll.

Ruby Walsh set out to make every yard of the running on his only mount of the day and the giant mare gradually ground her rivals into submission.

Sent off at the prohibitive price of 1-6 favourite, her task was made even easier when Fighting Fifth second Cockney Sparrow fell at the second-last, although she looked to very much have her measure at the time.

Donald McCain's Doyly Carte was left in second but she was no match for Annie Power, who trotted up by 15 lengths despite a blip at the last.

Annie Power runs in the colours of Rich Ricci's wife, Susannah, and he said: "I think next time it's Cheltenham. I'm trying to be transparent. I've been with Willie since 2005 and it's always the same. We didn't decide to run Champagne Fever in the Supreme until after he had worked the Thursday before. That's how it is.

"We haven't had a chat about it yet. I'm sure we will. I'm sensitive to the yard. He's got a lot of horses to mind and he's got to balance them all out.

"It's my first visit to Doncaster. It's fantastic and we'll be back."

Mullins was at Leopardstown, where he said: "I was surprised how soft the ground was at Doncaster, but that wasn't any harm.

"She's getting used to travelling, and hopefully three trips across to England haven't taken a lot out of her but we'll see how she comes back. The forecast is so bad, I don't know whether she's going to get back until Monday or Tuesday, but we'll see, she might be lucky and get out.

"She's a wonderfully filly and hopefully we can add one or two more wins after that."

Walsh said: "If she's fit, sound healthy and well, the race (at Cheltenham) will pick itself. Getting there would be the big thing in my eyes."

The Rainbow Hunter is set for a second crack at the Grand National after springing a 25-1 surprise in the Sky Bet Chase.

Kim Bailey's charge unseated his rider at the Canal Turn on the first circuit in the Aintree showpiece last year.

All roads lead back to the Liverpool course after he took this three-mile handicap to give Bailey a second win in the race after Man O'Magic in 1990.

Solix made the running until the second-last where Nick Scholfield asked The Rainbow Hunter for his effort.

Although Baile Anrai tried to mount a challenge he was still a length and a half down at the line. Unioniste, the well-backed 11-4 favourite, was eight lengths away third.

Valdez (15-8 favourite) gave Alan King his first winner since he was forced to shut down his stables with an emphatic victory in the Racing Post Lightning Novices' Chase.

The Barbury Castle trainer only resumed operations on Friday after his horses had been under a cloud and Valdez got the team back up and running in this Grade Two contest as he cut down Arnaud to score by three and a quarter lengths.

Urban Hymn (9-4 favourite) rallied gamely in the testing conditions to deny Blakemount by a short head in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

Simply Ned (6-1) ran out a ready winner of the TRM-Excellence In Equine Nutrition Handicap Chase for Nicky Richards.

Andrew Tinkler completed a first- and last-race double for Nicky Henderson on Master Of The Game (16-1) in the Sky Bet Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Hurdle and Side Step (7-2 favourite) in the concluding bumper.

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