Friday 9 December 2016

Shock at Vautour loss after freak accident

Johnny Ward

Published 07/11/2016 | 02:30

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile

Vautour, one of the most talented horses Willie Mullins ever trained, had to be put down after a freak accident yesterday.

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Last season's Ryanair Chase winner broke a foreleg in an enormous blow for Mullins and his owner Rich Ricci.

Vautour, which could have been a strong Gold Cup contender this season, won ten of his 16 career starts. Only once did he finish out of the first two, when falling at Aintree in the Grade One JLT Melling Chase when long odds-on.

Ruby Walsh, his regular rider, said: "This is an absolute dose, it's so disappointing for us all.

"He was a top-quality horse that gave me so many good days. I'd say, if I had to pick his best day, it was when he won as a novice chaser at Cheltenham.

"I feel he was one of those who did not reach his full potential before he died. It's a cruel game."

Vautour was trading at around 8/1 for the Gold Cup next March before yesterday's news.

Meanwhile, Joseph O'Brien unveils two of his hugely exciting team of potential juvenile hurdlers at Fairyhouse this afternoon.

The young trainer has acquired 11 three-year-olds for JP McManus that saw action for his father Aidan on the Flat this year.

They are all potential Triumph Hurdle horses, though the 23-year-old will likely take a longer-term view with a portion of the 11.

Seemingly, though, both Big Ben and Landofhopeandglory have been sent to school early. Both are in action in the juvenile hurdle today, with Landofhopeandglory seemingly the pick. Barry Geraghty rides.

However, Gordon Elliott seems to have the best juvenile we have seen so far in Ireland in Saturday's bloodless Down Royal winner, Mega Fortune. He is by Solider Of Fortune and so is Icario, which gets the nod today under the in-form David Mullins.

This French import boasts nice form in his homeland and rates an intriguing recruit for the all-conquering Gigginstown.

The same owner-trainer-rider team is taken to snare the opening maiden chase with Crest.

A fine stamp of a horse, he might have a little too much class for stablemate Woodford Island.

Promising

In the Book Your Christmas Party At Fairyhouse December 17th Maiden Hurdle, Ruby Walsh steers Sutton Manor for Elliott, but The West's Awake is promising and is preferred for Edward O'Grady, who has had a fine few months with limited runners.

Gigginstown's team of personnel seems never-ending just now and accounts for half of the runners in the novice hurdle.

The Walsh-ridden Fire In His Eyes, a type to find plenty for stoking, is readily preferred in an interesting four-runner heat.

Elliott, who had a superb weekend at Down Royal, can take the two-mile handicap hurdle with top weight Canny Tom.

Rider Keith Donoghue, whose eye has almost fully recovered from a freak accident, will inculcate confidence in this consistent sort in a moderate event and Canny Tom gets the nap allegiance.

Irish Independent

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