/ Racing

Mullins retains Hurricane Fly supporting cast for Champion Hurdle

Updated: Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 16:53 | Comments

Annie Power will join Un De Sceaux and Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle
Annie Power will join Un De Sceaux and Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle

Willie Mullins appears to have all bases covered after leaving Un De Sceaux and Annie Power in the Stan James Champion Hurdle alongside Hurricane Fly.

The trio feature among 12 horses to stand their ground at the confirmation stage, although Annie Power has the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and a clash with Big Buck's as her intended target.

While the claims of dual winner Hurricane Fly are clear, Un De Sceaux would be facing a steep jump in class after winning a couple of moderate events before landing the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran last month.

The six-year-old is unbeaten in five runs for Mullins after transferring to his care last February.

The Closutton handler, who has also left in Thousand Stars, told www.wpmullins.com: "I have only given him one entry next week and that is in the Champion Hurdle.

"That would be a huge step up in class from his other races and we have to weigh up whether now is the time to go for the Champion. I don't have any other thoughts regarding his plans after that, ie Aintree or Punchestown.

"We will decide on the Champion first then take it from there. Whether he goes or not he is clearly a very exciting prospect for us."

Hurricane Fly and Nigel Twiston-Davies' The New One are the joint 11-4 favourites with the big-race sponsors, with My Tent Or Yours next at 4-1.

The latter was the subject of a minor injury scare on Tuesday when he was found to have sustained a small puncture wound to the sole of one of his feet, but Nicky Henderson reports his charge back on form.

"He's sound this morning, he was happy on his foot and he will be going for a swim today," said the champion trainer.

"He was virtually sound on it yesterday, to be honest, but he was just a bit cautious on his foot. Today he is happy back jogging on it and whatever else.

"I'm very happy today and the farriers have done a great job, so many thanks to them."

Tony McCoy will ride My Tent Or Yours for retained owner JP McManus.

He told his Cheltenham blog: "He obviously just stood on something, which does happen, but Nicky Henderson is very happy with him and that's good news."

McManus is also responsible for the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki and Captain Cee Bee, who was supplemented for the race at a cost of £20,000 on Wednesday.

The 13-year-old Captain Cee Bee won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle back in 2008 and has twice run over fences at the Festival, finishing third in the 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase and eighth in the 2010 Arkle.

He finished third, beaten just two and three-quarter lengths by Hurricane Fly in the Irish Champion Hurdle last time, prompting McManus and trainer Eddie Harty to give the popular veteran another shot at Festival glory.

Harty said: "He ran very well in the Irish Champion, but that came after the English Champion had closed. His form was very good there so we decided to supplement him for the race.

"We're pleased with him and he's in good form.

"It's not his first Festival run and he has has been very good there in the past.

"I'd imagine the ground will be good to soft or around that next week which will suit us fine."

Dessie Hughes' Our Conor was an impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle last spring and further enhances the Irish challenge, while Melodic Rendezvous has shone in winning two trial events for Jeremy Scott.

Ptit Zig could represent Paul Nicholls, with Alan King's Grumeti rounding out the field, although both are available at long odds.

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