“We are fairly sure Annie Power will stay”
3 March 2014
Annie Power in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle:
Willie [Mullins] asked my opinion on what I thought, and everything had to be considered and we all felt the World Hurdle was the right race for her.
We are fairly sure, or as anybody can be, that she’ll stay.
She obviously has never run over three miles before, but nor has she run at Grade One level over two miles for the Champion Hurdle.
Her pedigree is all stamina, she’s out of an Old Vic mare and she’s by Shirocco.
It is her best chance of winning.
There are four or five outstanding horses in the Champion Hurdle and maybe two or three in the World Hurdle, so you weigh up your options and take your chance.
Her training would not have changed because of our decision, and most of Willie’s horses are trained in a similar way anyway.
Big Buck’s is a hell of a good horse and will be very hard to beat. I guess I’ve had ten months to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be riding him so I’ve put that out of my mind.
It would have been a difficult decision choosing between Annie Power and Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle but, as she has never competed at Grade One level over two miles and he is a 19-times Grade 1 winner, and it is a hypothetical question, I’m not going to comment on it.
Hurricane Fly seems in good form and looks super so fingers crossed he stays that way.
Schooling at Leopardstown on Sunday:
Ballycasey came down schooling, which is not ideal and you’d prefer that it didn’t happen, but he is 100%.
I would prefer he tipped up at Leopardstown and not in the RSA, so hopefully he would have learned from it and onwards and upwards.
He jumped a few loose, and falls can go two ways; they either learn from it or it frightens them. It is hard to say it frightened him as he was fine afterwards.
I wish I knew why he fell, he was just novicey and fell over on his head. Hopefully it will stand him good stead for next time.
Champagne Fever jumped well and is in good form. He travelled well and is in good spirits and I was delighted with him yesterday.
I just have huge respect for Rock On Ruby.
He’s a Champion Hurdle winner and seems to have improved his jumping from Plumpton to Doncaster and he is probably the one we all have to beat in the Arkle.
Faugheen also seems to be in great form and is working well at home. I wouldn’t see any reason to be downbeat. The feed thing that has been reported is a little technical for me, and what they are eating I couldn’t tell you. Those decisions are for Willie and the staff.
Of the horses for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, it will be a tough call but I am leaning towards Vautour, who was so good at Leopardstown.
I have won the race on stayers in the past and he seems to be a good stayer.
They have at least two pieces of work to do and then we will see how they travel. I would be leaning towards him, but Wicklow Brave is a hell of a good horse so I’d be hoping I’m on the right one.
Irving was very impressive at Kempton, where he just changed gear and made good horses look ordinary.
Cheltenham is a hard place to win, and we have a lot of chances but you need those to get winners.
I seem to have very good horses to ride all week, but they all have to travel over still and I am hoping that I’m lucky.
There have been reports that Willie fears that his horses might get doped in the lead up to the Festival.
I saw Paul Nicholls for years heightening security at Ditcheat when Kauto Star and Denmam were there, so I know how it works.
You try to take every precaution that you can.
From my point of view I don’t take any unnecessary risks but you can get knocked down crossing the road so how do you ease down?