Walsh is sure Annie has enough Power

POWER GAME: Ruby Walsh is sure Annie Power will be fine stepping up to three miles

POWER GAME: Ruby Walsh is sure Annie Power will be fine stepping up to three miles

First published in Sport

RUBY WALSH is confident the step up to three miles will not be a problem for Annie Power when she tackles the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham next week.

The potential Festival target of Willie Mullins’ unbeaten mare has been the subject of much debate in recent weeks, with the Champion Hurdle over two miles, the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle over two and a half and the three-mile World Hurdle all considered.

Ireland’s champion trainer finally confirmed on Sunday his six-year-old would step up in distance at Cheltenham, and Walsh feels connections have made the right call.

He said: ‘‘I think she will stay. 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 really 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 has 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.’’ Walsh partnered Big Buck’s in each of his four World Hurdle triumphs and was successful on 18 of the 19 times he rode the 11-year-old.

‘‘He’s a hell of a good horse and he’ll be very hard to beat,’’ Walsh told Racing UK.

‘‘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.’’ One horse who will not make the World Hurdle is Monksland, who has been sidelined since winning at Leopardstown in December 2012.

Trainer Noel Meade hopes to get his charge back on the track this season, but has ruled out a trip to Cheltenham, with a number of his strong under the weather.

‘‘He’s good, but he’s just not going to Cheltenham,’’ said Meade. ‘‘We’ve got a bit of a problem here with a few dirty noses and temperatures and whatever, so he’s not going to go.

‘‘Liverpool is a possibility and there’s Fairyhouse and Punchestown, hopefully.

‘‘Any of the other places are possibilities. We’ll have to see how we get on.’’ 􀁧 Noel Meade has withdrawn Monksland from the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival as he revealed several members of his string are under the weather.

Monksland has been sidelined since winning the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in December 2012, but the County Meath trainer still hopes to get him back on the track this season, with races at Aintree, Fairyhouse and Punchestown to be considered.

‘‘He’s good, but he’s just not going to Cheltenham,’’ said Meade. ‘‘We’ve got a bit of a problem here with a few dirty noses and temperatures and whatever, so he’s not going to go.

‘‘Liverpool is a possibility and there’s Fairyhouse and Punchestown, hopefully.

‘‘Any of the other places are possibilities. We’ll have to see how we get on.’’

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