Annie Power: 15-8 favourite for the World HurdlePICTURE: Alain Barr (racingpost.com/photos)
Walsh optimistic Annie will stay in World Hurdle
ANNIE POWER will run in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival because that is where connections think she will have the best chance of top-level glory, according to jockey Ruby Walsh who is optimistic the star mare will have enough stamina for the race.
Unbeaten in ten starts, Annie Power had the option of tackling stablemate Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, but trainer Willie Mullins confirmed the World Hurdle as her target on Sunday.
She is now 15-8 favourite for that from Big Buck's, who won the Grade 1 four times from 2009 to 2012 with Walsh aboard.
However, Annie Power, who races in the colours of Susannah Ricci, has yet to run over the World Hurdle trip of 3m with the 2m4½f she won over at Cheltenham in January the furthest she has tried.
"I think she will stay," Walsh said on Monday. "Her pedigree is all stamina. She's out of an Old Vic mare and she's by Shirocco.
"The further she goes the more it'll suit her, but you can't be certain until she goes and does it.
"She's never run over three miles, but things had to be considered and that's where we feel she has her best chance.
"Willie asked my opinion and everything had to be weighed up and we all felt it is the right race for her.
"There are four or five outstanding horses in the Champion Hurdle and maybe two, possibly three, in the World Hurdle so you weigh up your options and take your chance."
Walsh, who was speaking to Racing UK, will be coming up against Big Buck's for the first time and rates him highly. The pair won 18 times from 19 starts when Walsh rode for Paul Nicholls.
"He's a hell of a good horse and he'll be very hard to beat," added Walsh, the winningmost rider at the festival.
"I guess I've had ten months to come to terms that I wouldn't be riding him so I've put that out of my mind."
Big Buck's, who missed last year's World Hurdle through injury, will be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies and is 5-2 with Paddy Power to win the race for a fifth time.