Vauban opens up exciting options with Royal Ascot romp

High-class hurdler Vauban looks like developing into an equally smart horse on the Flat following his facile victory in the Copper Horse Handicap.

His success completed a treble on the day for jockey Ryan Moore and gave him a 76th winner at Royal Ascot.

Rated 160 over hurdles, the Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old looked thrown in off a mark of 101 in this mile-and-three-quarters contest.

Winner of three top-level races over the sticks for owner Rich Ricci, he had just failed to make it four when chasing home stablemate State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Punchestown on his last run in April.

Moore immediately kept it simple aboard the well-supported even-money favourite, sending him to the front early and though he looked under pressure turning in, Vauban quickened smartly and in a matter of strides approaching the two-furlong pole he powered away from his rivals.

It was a notable afternoon for Mullins, who started the day arriving in one of the royal carriages and ended it with a one-two in the last, with the Frankie Dettori-ridden Absurde a well-held seven-and-a-half-length runner-up.

“It was a great performance from the horse, he’s improving all the time,” said Mullins.

“What was especially good was how brave Ryan Moore was, that was plan B or C what he did there. He jumped out, saw there was no pace and thought he’d better be more forward than we’d planned to be.

“He took the bull by the horns going around the first bend and then just rolled along the whole race. He stacked them all up behind him and started letting out a bit of speed – seven, six, five furlongs out he just kept winding it up and held some in reserve to win by seven and a half lengths, which is amazing.”

On future plans, the Closutton handler said: “We will have a look at all those races, York could be on the agenda and the Melbourne Cup is where we said we’d like to go and that’s what we’re going to try to do.

“We’ve had a wonderful day and to have a winner on top of that (being in the procession), you cannot ask for any more.”

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