Vautour comes through Supreme test with flying colours
Vautour took the step-up into Grade 1 Company in his stride when lowering the colours of The Tullow Tank in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown and is now the clear favourite with Coral for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Willie Mullins’ French import lived up to his tall home reputation in fine style as he completed the hat¬trick with a three length win under a masterful ride from Ruby Walsh, and having initially been cut into 5/1 (from 8s), further support has seen him harden into 4/1.
He will now bid to become the first five¬year-old since the mighty Istabraq in 1997 to complete the Deloitte/Supreme double, and the form of contest looks strong given that the runner-up The Tullow Tank had previously landed back-to-back Grade 1 wins.
The win also means that he ticks another couple of important boxes as far as stats for the Supreme are concerned, as seven of the last nine winners had raced three times or more over the smaller obstacles and 15 out of the last 17 winners had triumphed on their final outing.
However the fact that just five horses aged five have won the race since 1987 suggests it will not be plain sailing, and The Tullow Tank cannot be ruled out reversing the placing’s if they did meet again in the Supreme.
Philip Fenton’s gelding was not suited by the slow pace in the Deloitte and it can be argued that his rider Danny Mullins got things wrong tactically by sitting too far off the pace.
The strapping son of Oscar often hits a flat spot in his races and was unable to cope with the injection of pace as Walsh was allowed to dictate things from the front on Vautour.
The six-¬year-old also made a hash of the second last, but to his credit stayed on well without ever quite threatening to land a blow.
He is currently and 8/1 chance for the race with Coral, but he also holds an entry in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over 2m 5f and his handler is currently favouring a tilt at that contest.
Fenton also believes he may not have been at his best in the Deloitte.
Speaking after the race, he said: “I have a gut feeling he just wasn’t in tip-top form. Let’s hope we can get him back on track.
“It’s Cheltenham next for him. The Neptune would probably look the more obvious race, but we have made no decision yet.”
The Tallow Tank is a 10/1 chance with Coral for the Neptune.