Walsh still mad about Vautour despite defeat
Willie Mullins was non-committal yesterday about what the future might hold for Vautour following his star prospect's narrow King George VI Chase defeat on Saturday.
Last season's breathtaking Cheltenham Festival hero was foiled on the line by the Paddy Brennan-ridden Cue Card in a thrilling edition of the Kempton Grade One that saw Gordon Elliott's fancied Don Cossack crash out when closing at the second-last fence.
The manner of Vautour's defeat left some to conclude that he didn't stay three miles, but Mullins (pictured) and Ruby Walsh - who had combined to land the Christmas Hurdle in facile fashion with a back-to-form Faugheen - were reluctant to go along with that. "I'm disappointed we didn't win a race we looked like we were going to win, but I just felt he didn't jump the last as good as he could and that was the difference," Mullins said of Vautour's head defeat. "If Cue Card stayed, then surely Vautour did too - there was only a nostril between them."
Asked whether a tilt at the Gold Cup, for which some firms pushed Vautour out to 12/1 from as low as 4/1, remains on the agenda, Mullins replied: "We are only in December, so there is a lot of racing before we get to that point."
"It's gutting to get chinned in such a prestigious race," said Walsh. "I suppose I watched it 15 or 20 times last night wondering: 'What if?' and 'If I did this, that and the other', but you can't ride it in hindsight.
"It was his first run out of novice company in a Grade One open race and he ran a blinder. He's only a six-year-old and I still think the world of him."
Vautour's owner Rich Ricci, who also owns Djakadam, said that he was "happy, for the time being, to continue planning for the Gold Cup with both of them".