Champion Hurdle Update: Reigning Champion Annie Power To Miss Cheltenham Festival
The 2017 Cheltenham Festival lost one of it’s biggest stars with the news that the reigning champion hurdler Annie Power will not be able to defend her crown after the outstanding mare suffered a leg injury on Tuesday. The latest setback for the daughter of Shirocco also puts the nine-year-old’s participation at Punchestown and the rest of the season in some doubt.
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Despite pleasing in a piece of work at Closutton on Tuesday morning trainer Willie Mullins received a call from the yard during the afternoon while working horses at the Curragh with the news that the mare was giving staff some cause for concern leading to checks being carried out the following morning, of which Mullins said: “ We had her checked out this morning and discovered that she had injured a ligament under her knee.
“It isn’t the leg she had problems with in the past and you would could call her good leg, for want of a better word. Cheltenham is definitely out and beyond that we’ll just have to wait and see. A lot will depend on how long it takes for the injury to heal. It could be six to nine weeks but sometimes it takes a lot longer. We’ll reassess the situation in a week or to ten days’ time and we should know then if she might make Punchestown.”
As expected, the breaking news resulted in a shake-up in the Champion Hurdle ante-post market with most bookmakers cutting the price of stablemate Faugheen who is expected to get his season underway in this Sunday’s BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. As short as 4-5 with Bet365 to repeat his championship victory at Prestbury Park in 2015 Faugheen is still available at 13-8 with Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfair Sportsbook, although none of those three firms have yet committed to the non-runner no bet proviso.
The JP McManus-owned Yanworth takes over the spot of second favourite following Annie Power’s exit from the betting with the Alan King-trained seven-year-old a general 4-1 chance. Next best comes Petit Mouchoir from the Henry De Bromhead stable at a standout 7-1 with Betfair Sportsbook while Nicky Henderson’s fast improving handicapper Brain Power, who has been supported at big prices, is now no bigger than the 12-1 on offer with Paddy Power.