Morgiana Hurdle target for Annie Power
Last Updated: 19/10/16 11:24am
Next month's Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown appears the most likely comeback target for Annie Power.
The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old became the first mare in 22 years to claim Champion Hurdle glory at Cheltenham in March and was even more dominant when following up at Aintree.
With last year's Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen set to return to action this season, having been unable to defend his crown at Prestbury Park due to injury, Mullins will need to split his aces and he could make his return in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
"Annie Power is in good order and all is well with her," the trainer told the At The Races website.
"She'll be going down the Champion Hurdle route and we have the Morgiana Hurdle pencilled in as a possibility for her return.
"Faugheen is in good shape and his starting point will be either the Morgiana or the Hatton's Grace. He won't have any problem with two-and-a-half miles in the Hatton's Grace if we point him in that direction.
"He'll be one that we play by ear as the season progresses."
Annie Power and Faugheen spearhead a formidable team of hurdlers housed at Closutton.
Ivan Grozny, winner of his last three starts, is also in contention for the Morgiana Hurdle.
Vroum Vroum Mag is unbeaten in 10 starts since arriving in Ireland in a combination of chases and hurdle races and won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle in April.
Mullins said: "She can do any job! She is probably top-class over both hurdles and fences.
"Her performance at Punchestown was fantastic and it reflected the work she had been doing at home.
"Given that she is in Rich Ricci's colours and he has plenty of talent in all divisions, she could well play the role of super sub all season and take up the challenge whenever he doesn't have another suitable runner for a big race."
Six-times Grade One winner Nichols Canyon is set to be campaigned over staying trips this season, while Cheltenham Festival winner Limini is a likely candidate for the Mares' Hurdle back at Prestbury Park next March.
"Nichols Canyon will stay over hurdles and I imagine we'll go down the staying route with him," said Mullins.
"He ran very well over three miles on his last start in America and that was at the end of a hard season, so you'd have to hope he'll get it well this season.
"Limini has been a little bit slow to come to herself, but she will stay hurdling and will hopefully be back in time to run at Christmas.
"She was a bit unlucky on her last run at Punchestown, as Whiteout got a very good ride from the front that day and Limini just had a bit too much to do to catch her.
"I'm hoping she will stay far enough to make up into a contender for the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham."
Arctic Fire, who missed the end of last season through injury, will not return until the second half of the season at the earliest.
Shaneshill ran over fences before reverting to hurdles last term and Mullins feels he "might be more of a staying hurdler for the coming season".
The champion trainer is delaying a decision on whether Yorkhill, so impressive when winning the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, will remain hurdling or go chasing.
He said: "He has won a point-to-point and jumps fences well, but we haven't made a final decision whether he stays hurdling or goes chasing yet.
"I think he could make a fantastic hurdle horse. He isn't too far away from a run."