Ruby Walsh: I used to take Annie Power home for the summer – and she’d even watch our family BBQs!

Ruby took a trip down memory lane in our three-part Racing Icons series

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Back at Cheltenham in 2015 I was riding Annie Power in the Mares’ Hurdle.

I was feeling great going into the race. I’d already won the Supreme, Arkle and Champion Hurdle and just needed this one for the big four of the day.

That Tuesday was so close to perfection: Four Grade 1s, all favorites, all the pressure and I’ve delivered. But it didn’t happen.

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Annie Power was pretty short in the betting and I got her into a great position to win the race. She was travelling like a dream, jumping the same way she always jumped. It couldn’t have been going any better.

I knew all the other horses were going as fast as they could. The only rival I couldn’t see was Glens Melody, who came second the year before, because Paul Townend was tucked in behind me.

After getting out in front at the second-last, Annie sped up heading into the final hurdle but couldn’t clear it. She clipped the top bar with her front legs.

Annie-Power-falls at the last in Cheltenham

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She picked up seven or eight yards before I thought she was going to, and even when she took the last, she didn’t jump with any elevation.

I look back now and think ‘what would I have done differently?’ and the simple answer is nothing.

You’re only talking millimeters here, such a fine margin. I spoke with my dad about it, and he didn’t think it was my fault either.

A year later at Cheltenham I was back on Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle.

This time around it was a real punt. I could have ridden Nichols Canyon, while Faugheen was being aimed for the race but got injured. Annie had to be supplemented in at 10% of the prize money – so £20,00 just to get her to the start line in the race.

She’d been beaten in the Stayers’ Hurdle and fallen in the Mares’ Hurdle. This was her chance to finally win on the biggest stage.

 

Going down the hill, two out, clear in front, I thought I was in with a great chance as I knew she stayed well.

There was so much riding on it. It wasn’t about redemption from the year before, but I’d stuck my neck out tactically to make it end-to-end, and everything just went right.

DON’T MISS:

After the previous misses at the Festival you’re asking yourself ‘how many chances do horses get to win at Cheltenham?’.

But I always thought Annie Power was one of the good ones – I loved her.

During the summer I’d take different horses at different times for Willie Mullins. But Annie ALWAYS came every year.

She’d be in the field beside the house, and we’d be having a family BBQ with the kids and Annie Power would be there, watching and looking over at us.

We’d mind her all summer, every summer. I really did enjoy that win.

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