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Mystical powers to Aintree success

3 minute read

Mystical Power stayed on strongly to land the Grade 1 TrustATrader Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on Friday.

MYSTICAL POWER (white cap) winning the Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England.
MYSTICAL POWER (white cap) winning the Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding, who is by the great sire Galileo and out of Mullins' Champion Hurdle-winning mare Annie Power, was sent off the 11/10 market leader to go one spot better than when runner-up in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.

Mystical Power suffered a first defeat at Prestbury Park having landed the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer by seven lengths at Punchestown in January and Mullins' five-your-old soon regained the winning thread with a hardy performance in Merseyside.

Carrying the famous green and gold hoops on JP McManus, Mystical Power travelled strongly just off the pace before jumping the last with a length advantage. Mark Walsh soon had to get to work on the supremely well-bred Mullins-trained challenger, with Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up Firefox breathing down his neck as the pair set down to do battle up the Aintree straight.

The Gordon Elliott-trained Firefox looked to pounce late on Merseyside, but Mark Walsh's mount found plenty for pressure, eventually fending off his chief market rival by half a length.

Lookaway finished a further nine and a half lengths back in third.

"It's great for the mare Annie Power to have a Grade 1 winner," said the delighted Closutton handler.

"He obviously keeps a lot of his ability for the racetrack, rather than the home gallops. We'll have more confidence in him now, and just get him fit and let him do his own thing. We'll have a think about Punchestown, but he doesn't owe us a thing this year. I was particularly taken with his hurdling today - he barely came off the ground; he just bent his legs like a real professional hurdler, and that's what he looks like."

Winning rider Mark Walsh added: "I was there a bit too soon and wanted to wait a bit longer, but Jack (Kennedy, on Firefox) was going to close the door on me, so I had to go when I did. Thankfully, he kept at it all the way to the line – he's a tough horse."

Paddy Power subsequently cut the winner to 16/1 (from 25/1) for next year's Champion Hurdle, with Mullins suggesting a campaign over the smaller obstacles could be on the cards.

Mullins added: "To look at him he doesn't scream chaser - he's not a big, old-fashioned type, but I am sure that he would make a nice novice chaser. We'll see where we are when the season closes, what rating he has over hurdles, what's left for him there. We might come back here for the two-and-a-half-mile race that was the Templegate (Aintree Hurdle).

"Whether he can dine at the top table over two miles is another question. It's a nice problem - it's a question a lot of people will give their viewpoint on."

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