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Ruby Walsh: Annie Power’s on track for Cheltenham but it’s hard to see her running in the World Hurdle on her comeback start

Top jock and not-in-the-least-bit playing his cards close to his chest, Ruby Walsh, talks Annie Power, preview nights, the weekend's action and er, wheels on bikes in his latest Paddy Power Blog column.

by Ruby Walsh | January 27, 2015

Annie Power is in good form at Closutton and working well but she is coming back from injury.

One thing’s for sure – there’s no room now for any hold ups now six weeks out from the Festival.

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I’m optimistic that she’ll make Cheltenham but it would be hard to see her running in the World Hurdle first time back.

But that’s why those decisions are left up to Willie (Mullins). She could work the house down next week and he’ll decide that she’s ready for a racecourse prep.

I’m just glad that I’ll be in the saddle when she’s ready to reappear.

AnniePower

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Talk is cheap

There’s one thing we can expect this over the next six weeks and that’s an awful lot of talk about Cheltenham 2015.

I don’t do many preview nights  – and that’s a deliberate ploy on my part.

I’ve enough to think about when making decisions on who to ride and how a race will ride without having to take on board other people’s views.

It’s a free country and everyone’s entitled to their opinion – but I’m entitled not to listen to it.

Before you know it, you’re at the start of the Festival with 15 dangers in each race after hearing about them all at the preview nights.

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Gimme Five

The Fly was his reliable, brilliant self when winning his fifth Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday (above) – although it wasn’t straightforward.

He seemed to be flat out for whatever reason mid-way through the race but the further we went he seemed to pick up.

It wasn’t the ground that caught him out as it rode pretty ‘dead’. Maybe it was just the sudden injection of pace that caught him off his feet a little bit.

He responded well and knew exactly where the winning post was at the business end of the race. I know Jezki made a bad mistake at the last – but I thought I was just shading it when he stumbled.

Will I ride him or Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle? We have to make sure that both get through the next six weeks first so there’s no real rush to make a call until closer the time.

The wheels have to be kept on the bikes and until I know the wheels are still on the bikes  – I won’t be making a decision.

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That’s settled it

Everything went according to plan with Un de Sceaux. He was clever and brave and I was delighted with him. He set the pace and it was up to the others to keep up with it.

They tried to but couldn’t maintain it. And that’s what happens. It’s a Catch 22 situation. If you try to stay with him he’ll burn you out. If you don’t and he doesn’t stop you’re still going to get beaten.

He settled well (for him anyway) and he’s learning with each run. When he fell at Thurles it was his first run of the season and he was very fresh.

If you’re asking me is odds-on for a novice race at Cheltenham value – I don’t think so. I can’t see him being any shorter on the day that’s for sure.

But he’s very, very good.

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Going for Gold

I was impressed with Many Clouds on Cheltenham Trials Day at the weekend. He looks a stout stayer to me and could run a big race in the Gold Cup as beating Smad Place and Dynaste was a very solid performance.

Peace and Co continues to justify the good impression he’s created. He was a bit keen early on but was soon well in charge. He stayed on up the hill well and looks a deserving favourite for the Triumph Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls’ decision to switch Saphir Du Rheu back from novice chasing looks to have been justified.

His win in the Cleeve Hurdle sets him up for a crack at an open-looking World Hurdle. He fought back well to beat Whisper at Ffos Las this time last year and out-battled one of the toughest horses in training in Reve De Sivola on Saturday.

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