Annie Power revisited as Ruby Walsh tumbles at the last in Champions Hurdle to hand Espoir D'Allen victory
Benie Des Dieux tossing victory away was less vexing for punters, but was no trifling setback either. The comparison website Oddschecker called her the best backed horse on day one of the Festival. A winner of all five races since joining the Mullins stable from France, she was a Festival ‘banker’. Mullins saddled five of the 14 runners in his attempt to win the race for a 10th time and Walsh called her “my best ride of the meeting”. Up went her front legs at the last, but down went her head, into the turf, leaving similar skid marks to Annie Power, and Walsh to observe Roksana (10-1) racing on by for the brothers Skelton, Dan (trainer) and Harry (jockey). On the BBC, Charlie Poste, another rider, was exclaiming, "Wow - it was like deja vu with Annie Power. The race was at her mercy. Knuckled over and gave away the race. The similarities to the tumble taken by Annie Power were madness.” Dan Skelton extended some consolation to Walsh, who started the meeting standing up in the saddle and punching the sky on Klassical Dream, another Mullins horse, in the SkyBet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which lights the meeting’s emotional fuse. In an interview on Sunday, it was pointed out that Walsh had been injury-free and able to ride for only 39 of 338 days between November 2017 and October 2018, so no wonder he was exultant at starting Cheltenham week with a win.