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Published: 15:33 | 15/3/16

Annie Powers to Champion


Annie Power justified the decision to supplement her for the Stan James Champion Hurdle by storming home to win the feature on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.

The decision to supplement her came on the back of the news that last year's winner Faugheen would miss the race through injury, but there were some doubts if she would prove a worthy deputy for her stable companion after falling when leading the OLBG Mares' Hurdle 12 months ago.

Ruby Walsh sent her into the lead from the off and kicked on from her rivals at the top of the home straight. Having safely negotiating the last flight she pulled on up the hill to win by four-and-a-half lengths.

My Tent Of Yours ran superbly on his first start in more than 700 days to take second from the winner's stablemate Nichols Canyon back in third.

"I got it wrong last year, but this is brilliant. You can never change what's gone, but she's just a cracking mare," Walsh said.

Owner Rich Ricci added: "I saw the last hurdle. That was spectacular.

"After what happened last year and that she's been such a wonderful horse to own, she's such a lovely thing, it's special.

"The only place she's ever lost is here and to come back and win is just a dream . You can have all the rest of them [Ricci's previous Festival wins], this is the most important one. I'm a mess."

Annie Power raced at the front of the field where she was able to dictate the pace, which Walsh gradually wound up as the race progressed.

She looked in complete control as they rounded the home turn and once the straight was in sight, Walsh allowed her to pull clear, much to the delight of the huge Cheltenham crowd.

"I copped a fair bit of flack last year but she deserved this. We always knew she had the pace and I knew I was going to just go and never look back," Walsh said after Annie Power became the first mare in 22 years to win the feature.

"I thought if they catch me they catch me but she is brilliant. You can never change was has gone but she is just amazing."

The winning trainer added: "I didn't expect her to do anything like that," he said. "Coming off the preparation she had, it was a huge performance.

"Ruby had said to me what he wanted to do about two weeks ago. I think he's been watching videos of Dawn Run for the last 24 or 48 hours and it worked out.

"She's exceeded my expectations."

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