Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 13:57 02/01/2014
Annie Power's eight length thrashing of the high-class Zarkandar in yesterday's Dornan Engineering Hurdle at Cheltenham confirmed what most national hunt enthusiasts aleady thought, that the Willie Mullins-trained 6-year-old is one of the most exciting prospects around at the moment and a serious contender for Festival glory in 10 week's time.
The big uncertainty however is as to which race the daughter of Shirocco will end up in at Prestbury Park as the mare looks certain to have entries in the Champion Hurdle, David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle and World Hurdle, with her shrewd handler unlikely to confirm her target until the day's leading up to the meeting. With the stable's Quevega as short as evens to make it win number six in the mare's race it is highly unlikely Annie Power would be asked to take her on and ' spoil the party ' which leaves the other two contests as the more likely possibilities. As short as 7-1 for the Champion Hurdle, the mare unbeaten in all nine starts would have to step back in trip with her last three victories coming over 2m 4f plus, while the stable, as well as housing dual winner Hurricane Fly have other possibilities in the shape of Un De Sceaux and Diakali, making Thursday's Ladbroke World Hurdle as the obvious first choice favourite.
Big Buck's is currently clear market leader at around the 9-4 mark but after being sidelined for over a year his reappearance in the Cleeve Hurdle later this month will be crucial regarding the 11-year-old's future, while reigning champion Solwhit has yet to be seen this season due to a setback and the potentially exciting At Fishers Cross looks a shadow of the horse who took the Albert Bartlett last March, making Annie Power a potentially outstanding bet should she turn up in the three mile stamina test.
The 8-1 available with Ladbrokes is very tempting considering she is as short as 4-1 with several firms but a safer proposition is the 5-1 on offer with Bet365 who are going non-runner no bet on all four championship events. Should things not pan out for one or more of the three horses mentioned it is highly likely that Annie Power could go off a short priced favourite on the day, making the generous Bet365 offer possibly one of the best value bets of the year ahead.