Friday 28 October 2016

Willie Mullins strives for Punchestown redemption with Vautour

Published 25/04/2016 | 20:11


Willie Mullins is hoping Vautour can capitalise upon the absence of at least two big guns when dropping back to two miles for the BoyleSports Champion Chase at Punchestown on Tuesday.

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With stablemate Un De Sceaux having taken on a rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre in the Celebration Chase at Sandown on Saturday, the scene is set for Vautour to make amends for his dramatic fall at Aintree.

The seven-year-old was sent off 1-5 favourite to follow up his Ryanair Chase success at Cheltenham in the Melling Chase at Aintree, only to take a pearler of a fall at the ninth fence.

"He was a bit sore for a day or two after Aintree but he is good now," said Mullins.

"With Sprinter Sacre and Un De Sceaux both having ran at Sandown we gave it a lot of thought and decided to go back to two miles with him."

Vautour's demise allowed God's Own to land the spoils and he is no stranger to Punchestown, having won the Ryanair Novice Chase in 2014.

"We had luck on your side at Aintree and he won the race nicely, but he's better going right-handed," said trainer Tom George.

"Probably two-miles-one at Punchestown is his optimum.

"It's a big, stiff, staying track. He always jumps a bit right, but he's got to have decent ground."

Barry Geraghty teams up with the Nicky Henderson-trained Simonsig.

The injury-plagued grey looked a top-class prospect when winning the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March 2013.

However, he has only had one run since and that came over hurdles at Aintree in November, when runner-up to stable companion Bobs Worth.

"He's in good shape and I schooled him last week over fences in Seven Barrows," the jockey told At The Races.

"He felt brilliant and schooled nicely.

"He's only had that one run in three years. He's been very unfortunate, but he's a high-class horse and Nicky's happy with his work at home.

"It's a big ask to step into this kind of grade as it's a good while since he's had his first run at Aintree.

"Vautour is a very good horse, and him coming down in distance is the only hope we have."

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