Redemption for Annie Power as Mullins and Walsh land treble


Annie Power made amends for a costly blunder last year by storming to victory in the Champion Hurdle as Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh started the Cheltenham Festival with an ominous treble on Tuesday.

The eight-year-old fell at the last when leading the Mares' Hurdle 12 months ago to save the bookmakers around £50million, but was not to be denied a first Festival victory at the third attempt.

Annie Power was only entered into the feature race of the opening day following an injury to Faugheen, but the 5-2 favourite led from start to finish to spark jubilant scenes - with owner Rich Ricci reduced to tears at Prestbury Park.

The Nicky Henderson-trained My Tent Or Yours travelled well under Barry Geraghty, but Annie Power romped home by four-and-a-half lengths in a record time of three minutes and 45.25 seconds to become the first mare to win the race since Flakey Dove in 1994.

My Tent Or Yours was second, with Mullins also saddling the third-placed Nichols Canyon before the County Carlow-based handler, jockey Walsh and owner Ricci went on to celebrate a treble on another memorable day for Irish racing.

The legendary Mullins racked up four winners on day one of the Festival last year and went on to take his tally for the week to a record eight, with Walsh the leading jockey for the ninth time in 12 years.

And the prolific duo stole the show yet again at the Gloucestershire course despite favourite Min failing to get them off to a winning start in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Henderson stated that Altior represented his best chance of a winner this week and the esteemed trainer's optimism proved to be well founded, as his charge bolted up the hill under last year's Gold Cup winner Nico de Boinville to beat Min by seven lengths.

Normal service was resumed in the Arkle Challenge Trophy, though, with the outstanding Douvan charging home by seven lengths to get a motionless Walsh and the wily Mullins up and running. 

Douvan started as a 1-4 favourite and was a class of his own as he shifted through the gears to leave his rivals trailing in his wake, with Sizing John seven lengths back in second and De Boinvillie picking himself up after Vaniteux fell at the second-last.

Vroum Vroum Mag, another odds-on favourite, completed the treble for Mullins, Walsh and Ricci by landing the Mares' Hurdle to stretch his winning streak to nine since joining the Mullins yard.

The 11-1 shot Un Temps Pour Tout was an impressive winner of the Handicap Chase, while Minella Rocco and Ballyalton were also victorious on another day one dominated by the Irish.