Annie Power is a best-priced 6-5 favourite for the OLBG Mares' HurdlePICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Annie in race against time to make festival
RUBY WALSH warned Annie Power cannot afford to miss a beat between now and Cheltenham if she is to take up her engagement in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.
Last season's Ladbrokes World Hurdle runner-up is as short as 5-1 for that race but the mares' contest on the opening day of the festival, won six times by stablemate Quevaga, remains the likely festival destination on March 10.
"Annie Power is in good form at Closutton and working well but she is coming back from injury," Walsh said on his Paddy Power blog. "But one thing's for sure - there's no room for any hold ups now six weeks out from the festival.
"I'm optimistic that she'll make Cheltenham but it would be hard to see her running in the World Hurdle first time back. But that's why those decisions are left up to Willie [Mullins - trainer]. She could work the house down next week and he'll decide that she's ready for a racecourse prep. I'm just glad that I'll be in the saddle when she's ready to reappear."
Walsh confirmed Douvan on course for the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, for which he has been backed into as short as 15-8, rather than the longer Neptune Novices' Hurdle.
"It is hard to imagine you would send him over further than two miles having won around the inside track at Punchestown," Walsh told Racing UK. "He only did as much as I asked him to do there but he jumped brilliantly and travelled super. He has plenty of pace, although he did beat stayers there.
"I'd have maximum respect for L'Ami Serge. It takes a good horse to do what he did at Sandown in the Tolworth. I was very impressed with him there."
Although the betting seems to suggest that Vautour will go down the JLT Novices' Chase route now that Un De Sceaux has been slashed to odds-on favourite for the Racing Post Arkle, Walsh does not believe the issue is cut and dried.
"There is no doubt that Vautour will get two and a half miles but he also has the pace to follow Un De Sceaux around. I wouldn't say it's a done deal that he goes for the JLT. "