Ricci: Injuries to Cheltenham Festival team are galling

Rich Ricci: has a formidable team despite major losses

PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos) Ricci frustrated by
injuries to Festival stars By Peter Scargill 9:45AM 7 FEB 2017

OWNER Rich Ricci has described the injuries that have ruled Annie Power, Faugheen and Min out of next month's Cheltenham Festival as "galling".

Annie Power and Faugheen have won the past two Champion Hurdles for Ricci and trainer Willie Mullins, while Min was a leading contender for the Racing Post Arkle. However, none of them will be at Cheltenham this year.

Ricci, who owns the superstar trio with his wife Susannah, added that as well as the injuries to his top trio, he has lost over a dozen horses in the last year, including dual festival hero Vautour, who died in a freak paddock accident.

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He said: "In any normal year, to lose either Faugheen or Min from your Cheltenham team would be hard to take. But to lose both – and on the back of what has been an attritional few weeks – was particularly galling.

"I know that so much went right for us last year and we had a stunning Cheltenham. But we have also lost over a dozen horses in the past 12 months so we've had a really tough run of it injury-wise too. When that happens you've got to ask yourself some hard questions. Does this happen to everybody or is it just our run of bad luck?"

Despite the setbacks, Ricci remained optimistic that Faugheen and Min would race this season and added only Annie Power had a "poor prognosis" in terms of running again this term.

Deadly Douvan leads team

Looking ahead to Cheltenham, Ricci said the next five weeks would be spent plotting how to best place his festival team, that remains formidable despite its losses.

Writing in his RTE blog, Ricci said: "Douvan will hopefully lead the team and obviously goes there with a big shout. But there are no shoo-ins at Cheltenham and even though we don't know yet who will take him on, I think for a number of reasons he will face the biggest test of his career there.

"It's the instinct of many that his least impressive performances have been at Cheltenham. That might sound harsh given how impressive he was in the Supreme and the Arkle, but he has set the bar pretty high with everything he has done."

He added: "Getabird looks like he could go very close in the Champion Bumper; Vroum Vroum Mag has lots of options and will be competitive in whatever race she runs in; Limini is a much stronger mare than last year and is in good form but also has not run since Punchestown last year; and Let's Dance would have a very good chance in any of the novice races she is entered in."

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