Vautour just does enough
Vautour did not reproduce the devastating performance that he put in in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham, but still did enough to take the 2m 4f Champion Novice Hurdle.
Trainer Willie Mullins had stated that his 5yo was not 100% earlier in the week but he was still sent of the 1/3 favourite as he tackled today’s longer trip for the first time. He would again make the running from the off under Ruby Walsh and jumped nicely as he carried his three rivals along at a decent pace.
It was clear that he had the better of both Lac Fontana and Lieutenant Colonel after the turn in but it was 14/1 outsider of the four Apache Stronghold that would make Walsh’s charge work most after the final flight. Vautour was driven out to the line to score by 3 1/2 lengths and Walsh thought that the quick ground at Cheltenham may have taken the edge off the winner, telling At The Races:
“The ground was quick enough at Cheltenham and some of our horses are not moving as well this week having run there.
“He lacked the same brilliance, but it’s to his credit that he was good enough to win.”
Trainer Willie Mullins was also happy to get the win, despite the underwhelming performance.
“That certainly wasn’t anything like his Cheltenham form,” he said. “Someone said two and a half was maybe too far, but that can’t be right knowing what he did earlier in the season.
“Maybe the spectacular run left a mark. I didn’t think he was as impressive.
“Having been to Cheltenham and been as impressive as he was, you would have said that today was lovely but we know what he can do.
“He wasn’t right at the beginning of the week, he just wasn’t 100 per cent so had a few easy days, maybe everything took its toll.
“Ruby said he was a little bit feely and maybe it was a bit firm at Cheltenham for him. These are all things we have to look at.”
Photo – Dan Heap @Ohdannyboy77
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