Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Ricci leaves Annie call to Mullins

Annie Power is unbeaten in 10 races

Leading owner Rich Ricci trusts Willie Mullins to make the right call over which race the much debated Annie Power should contest at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The six-year-old stretched her unbeaten record to 10 with another dominant display at Doncaster last weekend and is in the rare position of being considered a major contender for the Champion Hurdle over two miles and the World Hurdle over three.

With Mullins' Hurricane Fly set to bid for a third Champion Hurdle victory, Annie Power could step up in distance and tackle Big Buck's, but Ricci insists any decision will not be rushed.

"She's in very good form. That's the most important thing. She came back from Doncaster very well," he told At The Races.

"We're still five weeks away (from Cheltenham) and we haven't sat down and talked about it. I have confidence in her over any trip, from two to three (miles) and we'll have to see as we get closer.

"I am sensitive to Willie and the yard and one thing we won't do is fall out over it. I'm friends with Willie and I'm friends with Ruby and I recognise the sense of history that's going on, but I also know and trust Willie and Ruby will do the right thing for the horse and place her where she has the best chance of winning.

"We'll run her where she has the best chance - against Hurricane Fly or Big Buck's or whoever it is. A lot of things have to be factored in."

Annie Power has yet to tackle three miles, but Ricci does not anticipate the longer distance being a problem if a World Hurdle bid is favoured.

He said: "We all think she'll go further. In time we think she'll be one for staying chases.

"I think she'd get the distance, but I don't know whether she's better or not. We'll have to see."

A third Cheltenham option for Annie Power is the OLBG Mares' Hurdle, but with stable companion Quevega set to bid for an incredible sixth successive win in that particular event, Ricci does not expect Annie Power to stand in her way.

"That's kind of Quevega's race. If something happened to Quevega, certainly that's an option, but in my heart of hearts that wouldn't be our preferred race, I don't think," he said.

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