Annie Power facing retirement after missing Punchestown
It looks likely that the 2016 Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power has run her last race after it was revealed on Thursday that she had not been declared for Saturday's Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
The star mare, who was recently revealed to be in foal to Camelot, has not been seen since beating My Tent Or Yours by 18 lengths in the Aintree Hurdle just over 12 months ago.
She held entries for Friday's Punchestown Champion Hurdle and Saturday's mares' equivalent but will now miss both races and, with few contests to target before she reaches the advanced stages of pregnancy, it could well be that she has run her last race.
Speaking on Thursday morning, her trainer Willie Mullins said: "Annie Power had been pleasing us in her work last week but over recent days she hadn't been showing her usual sparkle and we decided there was no point in declaring her for Saturday's race just for the sake of running her."
On the prospect of retirement he added: "I have to talk to her owners, Rich and Susannah Ricci, either today or tomorrow to decide on the mare's future."
Annie Power has become one of the most popular racemares of all time. After winning two bumpers for Jim Bolger, she moved to Mullins and won all but two of her starts over hurdles. She has won five Grade 1s in total.
Her only defeats came when she finished second to More Of That in the 2014 World Hurdle and her infamous last-flight fall when in command of the following year's David Nicholson. Her spill reportedly cost punters more than £40 million on account of accumulators on the fancied Mullins runners on the card.
Apple's Jade, winner of the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, heads the seven runners in Saturday's race, while Mullins still has four chances with Augusta Kate, Airlie Beach, Karalee and Whiteout all declared. Barra and Lady Buttons complete the field.