Mullins wary of Vautour timing
Willie Mullins has admitted to concern over whether he can have Vautour peaking at this time of the season as he prepares to lead a six-strong Irish assault on Kempton.
Twice a runaway winner at Cheltenham in March, Vautour suffered his only defeat in 10 starts for Mullins at Leopardstown last Christmas. He and Gordon Elliott's Don Cossack vie for the King George VI Chase market lead on St Stephen's Day, while Faugheen is odds-on to atone for his comeback defeat in the Christmas Hurdle.
"I'd love to win the King George and hopefully he's good enough," the champion trainer said of Vautour, "but it seems to be the way we train; we've never won a Lexus yet we can turn the Lexus form around in February and March as we win the Hennessy Gold Cup.
"Vautour was so impressive at Cheltenham, like he was the year before. Whether we can get it out of him at Christmas (I don't know), but I don't want it out of him until March. I'd be hoping he'll stay.
"He won the JLT and, the way he came up the hill, there didn't look to be a stamina issue." Mullins also has Valseur Lido in a three-miler he won with Florida Pearl in 2001.