Leopardstown: Vautour cruises back to winning ways
Leading Cheltenham Festival hope, Vautour got back to wining ways in the Grade 2 Killiney Novice Chase at Leopardstown. Willie Mullins’ charge surprisingly had his colours lowered for the first over Christmas at the same track but eased back into the winners enclosure with a bloodless victory in today’s three runner contest.
Vautour, last season’s Supreme Novices winner, went down at the hands of the Gigginstown owned Clarcam in the Racing Post Novice Chase last time and it was another Gigginstown runner in the form of Real Steel that was his main rival today. Ruby Walsh, on board the 1/5 favourite, sent his charge to the front from the off and that is where they would stay after a slick round of jumping.
Real Steel put up a game effort but eventually came to grief when beaten at the last, stumbling on landing and throwing Bryan Cooper out of the saddle. This left the gallant 11yo Aladdins Cave to jump a clear round to finish second and pick up his clever connections over €7000 in prize money.
Vautour still holds entries in the Arkle, the JLT and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and was shortened in to 5/2 favourite for the JLT in the aftermath.
Winning trainer, Mullins said: “I think he’s back to himself. He did what he probably should have done at Christmas.
“He strode out a lot better and jumped a lot better, but I think he could still jump a lot better. He didn’t jump as well as he did first time at Navan.
“It was a very good test. Probably in reality it was a match. The other horse (Real Steel) is rated 140 and has mixed it with the best novices.
“He put it up to him the whole way down the back and coming to the ditch and yet he was able to shrug him off and go away. I’m happy he’s back to himself and think there is more to come.
“I think it was a just little muscle problem at Christmas. He appeared fine the day before when I left for Kempton but by the time he came to the racing he wasn’t right.
“Two or three days later he was fine. Obviously he’d had a race and made a mistake so he was a little stiff but he came out of the race normally.
“I said to Ruby today to make sure he was warmed up plenty but he had ridden him in a good bit of work since Christmas and was happy with him.”
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