Cheltenham: Annie has the Power but Polly is a peachy each-way bet

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It’s obvious really, Willie Mullins saddles the victor of the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham after 10 months off following victory at Cheltenham, or is it?

This time round we are, of course, not talking about the superstar that was Quevega, but the new queen of hurdles Annie Power.

Many fingers were burnt in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle 12 months ago when the unbeaten six-year-old was just touched off on the Thursday by the astronomical improver More of That.

But after making amends back in Ireland, the red-hot favourite looks likely to be a tough nut to crack in 2015.

In theory it should be a walk in the park.

Ruby Walsh’s mount has five graded victories to her name, an eye-opening number when you consider her 15 rivals have just three between them.

She has won after a break in the past and with her handler’s record in the contest looks a solid bet in the contest, but is there a better play for the 2m4f race?

Stablemate Glen’s Melody is a useful horse, demonstrated when finishing second last year, but her price of 9/2 is a far-cry from the 14/1 that was available that time.

Third place last season was L’Unique. Alan King’s mare has been running respectable without winning this year, last seen going down to Carole’s Spirit at Kempton back in November.

That horse, as well as Bitofapuzzle, looks a classy horse, but one suspects both are a crying out for more of a test than the 2m4f on fairly decent ground will present.

One horse keeps jumping out as an each-way play to nothing.

Actually rated 5lbs higher than Glen’s Melody yet double the price, POLLY PEACHUM could well be the answer.

At 10/1 you would get a better return if you backed her each-way and she finished third, than you would if you followed the favourite to success.

And with Willie Mullins’ mare not seen all year, a chance to take her on is gladly accepted.

You can write off the selection’s last run in the aforementioned Kempton race in which she clearly didn’t stay 3m and didn’t look like delivering her best run.

But before that, she had been a model of consistency.

She defeated subsequent dual winner Blue Buttons first time out this season, and went down just a short head to 7/1 shot for the RSA Chase Southfield Theatre.

A 5l beating of L’Unique in a Listed event at Cheltenham looks strong now, and it’s fair to assume she has improved since then.

With Barry Geraghty in the saddle, she is in good hands, and looks a cracking each-way bet for the final graded race on day one.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.