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Saturday 19 August 2017

Cheltenham 2015: Annie Power crashes at the last but Melody leaves Mullins humming on 'fantastic day'

Jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins celebrate in the winner's enclosure after victory in the Champion Hurdle with Faugheen
Jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins celebrate in the winner's enclosure after victory in the Champion Hurdle with Faugheen

DOUVAN, Un De Sceaux, Faugheen and Annie Power was the Willie Mullins four-timer that had struck the fear of God into bookmakers.

And after the first three all emphatically obliged they were saved by an over-exuberant jump at the last by Annie Power which saw her come crashing to the ground when the race was all hers.

The most important outcome was that Annie Power and Ruby Walsh both walked back sound, as did L’Unique and Wayne Hutchinson who also fell at the last.

But for Willie Mullins he still managed to complete the four-timer when Glens Melody (left) with Paul Townsend dug deep to score by a just a head from Polly Peachum.

Annie Power just had to get over the last to claim glory on her first start of the season but she took off a stride early, clipped the top of the hurdle and gave herself no chance of landing running leaving Glens Melody to stay on gamely under Paul Townend.

It was just reward for the seven-year-olds owner Fiona McStay who could have very easily retired the valuable mare to stud after she finished second to Quevega here 12-months ago.

“You couldn’t write a script like that but I just knew all the horses were doing everything right We had no sickness, no virus, no bad weather - it was going scarily well and I thought coming here it was either going to be a great success or a blow-out.”

Mullins continued: “I’m delighted for Fiona McStay who decided to keep the mare in training to come back and try and win this race and it’s worked out fantastically well.

“I’m also pleased for (jockey) Paul (Townsend),” added Mullins.

“He is second jockey to Ruby but has gained his reward today and got a Grade One winner on the opening day.”

The winning owner said: “To retire now on the back of a Cheltenham win is what you dream of - it doesn’t get any better than that.

“She’ll finish the season out but that’s it. I have a few of the family coming along behind her - I have a full sister now with Willie, so well see if she has any of her sister’s ability.

“When you are breeding them, it’s very special to see them doing so well - I bucket fed her as a foal because she was very timid in the field with the others.”

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