Last year’s Champion hurdler Annie Power has been ruled out of a bid to retain her title after suffering a leg injury at home.
It was revealed on Wednesday morning that the nine-year-old had incurred a fresh leg injury, with details of the injury remaining obscure.
Only a matter of days ago, Mullins was reporting that the mare had been pleasing him in the build up to her intended return in a mares’ hurdle at Punchestown on February 22.
“It’s disappointing. She worked well yesterday and we were very pleased with her,” said Mullins.
“I was away all day yesterday working horses on the Curragh and they told me yesterday evening they weren’t happy with her.
“We just confirmed that this morning – that she has an injury on the other leg, the good leg for want of a better word.”
Annie Power became only the fourth mare in history to win the Champion Hurdle ten months ago when partnered by Ruby Walsh.
Her record at the Festival was somewhat chequered before last year’s performance. She finished second behind More Of That in the 2014 World Hurdle when supported into strong favouritism.
Twelve months on from that, the daughter of Shirocco had the mares’ hurdle at her mercy coming to the final flight but crashed out in what was one of the most expensive falls to punters ever.
Mullins added: “She’s definitely out of Cheltenham and whether she runs again this season, I don’t know. We’d have to see the extent of it, but I’d probably say not. She’s going to be a huge loss to us this season.”
Whether she runs again this season, I don’t know
With Annie Power ruled out attention will now turn to her stable mate Faugheen who is set to make his return to action this weekend at Leopardstown.
He is currently as short as 4/5 in a place with bookmakers, with Christmas Hurdle winner Yanworth next best at a general price of 7/2.