Vautour: expected to follow up Cheltenham Festival success
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos
TRAINER Willie Mullins has said that JLT Melling Chase favourite Vautour is in better form than he was going into the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, a race he won easily by six lengths.
Vautour had been expected to run in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup but was switched at the eleventh hour to the Ryanair Chase after owner Rich Ricci revealed that the horse had not been pleasing in his work at home.
Fears about Vautour’s well-being proved to be wide of the mark, however, as he destroyed his rivals in the Ryanair, and confidence is high that he will be able to follow up that impressive win.
“He was very good in the Ryanair Chase last month and his work since has been better than what he did leading up to Cheltenham,” Mullins said. “That’s encouraging and we’re looking forward to him running up to his best. If the ground gets softer it wouldn’t be ideal, but he’s come here in very good form.”
Mullins is seeking a first British trainers’ championship and trails Paul Nicholls by less than £25,000 after wins for Annie Power and Apple’s Jade at Aintree on Thursday whittled away the reigning champion’s advantage.
The Grade 1 Melling Chase is worth £112,260 to the winner and Vautour is the 1-4 favourite to claim the prize which would propel Mullins into the lead in the title race.
Nicholls is also represented in the 2m4f contest in the shape of Vibrato Valtat, who fell in the Ryanair Chase before he had been asked for his effort. He is a top price of 25-1 with BetVictor and Betway.
The six-runner field is completed by Al Ferof, God’s Own, Clarcam and Somersby.
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