VAUTOUR arrived at Leopardstown yesterday as a long odds-on favourite for the Racing Post Novice Chase but the most inexperienced horse in the six-runner line up paid the penalty for a couple of bad mistakes, most notably at the fifth last fence as Clarcam became the latest in a long list of big race winners for trainer Gordon Elliott.
Elliott's four-year-old was eight lengths adrift of Vautour when they met on their respective chasing debuts but Clarcam comprehensively reversed that form when running out a 17-length winner ahead of Vautour and Ted Veale who dead-heated for second place.
Mistakes aside for Vautour, Clarcam certainly appeared to be the better horse on the day and he is now likely to return to Leopardstown for the Irish Arkle.
"We knew coming here that Vautour was the horse to beat and to beat him he'd have to make mistakes and he did, but our horse didn't just win a length or two, he destroyed him and it's another Grade One so I'm delighted," Elliott said afterwards.
"I'm in a great position to have good staff and good horses and it's all about winning. We'll probably come back here for the Irish Arkle next."
It was a result that will have meant a lot to winning owner Gigginstown House Stud's retained rider who suffered a badly broken leg from Clarcam in the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham back in March and Elliott added: "It's great for Bryan as he got a bad fall off the horse in March and he gave him a good ride. I thought he might have got to the front too soon but he did it well."
Elliott was on the mark in Down Royal also when Oscar Barton caused an upset to overturn On The Fringe in the Hunters Chase and he completed a cross the card treble in the finale at Leopardstown when Space Cadet capped a fine day for the trainer and a memorable week for winning rider Jamie Codd who got engaged this week.
"Space Cadet is a very nice horse we think a lot of and his Navan run over hurdles was there to be seen when he finished well late after running very green. We'll look for a winners bumper next but he won't go over hurdles until next season," Elliott commented.
Clarcam is now a 12/1 shot for the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham with Vautour eased to 5/1 from 7/2 with Boylesports. Trainer Dessie McDonogh was a shade emotional as he stood in the winners enclosure following Fiscal Focus' triumph in the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle.
Owned by Jim and Jackie Bolger, the son of Intense Focus was sent off a 33/1 shot for what was his hurdling debut and McDonogh, who had so many good days with Monksfield in particular, is hoping that a return to Cheltenham could be on the cards.
"I'm a bit emotional because it's been a while since I stood here on St Stephen's Day and I haven't seen one around our yard like this for a while. It's a long time since Monksfield and I haven't been back to Cheltenham since 1987.
"I said I wouldn't go again until I had a runner so hopefully this will be the horse to give us a swansong," added McDonogh.