Annie Power and Nichols Canyon give Willie Mullins strong hand in Stayers Hurdle

Friday, Apr 21 2017

Annie Power and Nichols Canyon are two of the star names to stand their ground in next Thursday's Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

Annie Power has a clutch of entries to choose from at the meeting as she prepares to make her seasonal bow, while Nichols Canyon arrives on the back of his success in the equivalent event at the Cheltenham Festival.

Both are trained by Willie Mullins and form part of a seven-strong list of contenders for the champion trainer along with Arctic Fire, Clondaw Warrior, Shaneshill, Footpad and Vroum Vroum Mag.

Mullins is battling it out for the handlers' crown with Gordon Elliott, and he also boasts a healthy team including Apple's Jade and Sutton Place in his six entries.

Neil King's Lil Rockerfeller, the Warren Greatrex-trained One Track Mind, who won the race last year, Unowhatimeanharry for Harry Fry and Dr Richard Newland's Duke Street could form a sizeable British challenge among 19 contenders.

The Ryanair Novice Chase is the other Grade One event on Thursday's card and Paul Nicholls' San Benedeto could try to add to his fortuitous Aintree success.

Mullins has three to pick from in Listen Dear, Townshend and Great Field, while Elliott has A Toi Phil and Ball D'Arc.

A total of 11 horses are still in the mix, with Baily Cloud, Ballyoisin, Ordinary World, Powersbomb and Woodland Opera completing the possible field.