Vautour and Don Poli schooled in Leopardstown workout

Henry De Bromhead looking ahead to Aintree with novice Alisier D’Irlande

Vautour, right, with Ruby Walsh up, and Ballycasey, with David Mullins aboard, go past the main stand. Photograph: Matt Browne

Vautour, right, with Ruby Walsh up, and Ballycasey, with David Mullins aboard, go past the main stand. Photograph: Matt Browne

 

Willie Mullins maintained the election theme at Leopardstown on Sunday when two of his big hopes for an elusive Cheltenham Gold Cup victory, Vautour and Don Poli, schooled after racing.

Both horses famously require a lot of work to achieve peak fitness and after watching the pair jump eight fences over a mile and a quarter, the champion trainer said: “I think the election slogan sums it up - a lot done but more to do!”

Ruby Walsh was on board Vautour who made a mistake at the first fence but was fluent afterwards.

Bryan Cooper rode Don Poli but later in the post-race workouts it was Davy Russell who schooled Michael O’Leary’s other big Gold Cup hope, Don Cossack, while Gigginstown’s No. 1 jockey teamed up with the RSA favourite, No More Heroes.

“The two of them were very good. Davy said Don Cossack could have gone around again. Bryan has to make a decision about what he rides in the Gold Cup but I wouldn’t have any problem if Davy ends up riding Don Cossack,” said their trainer Gordon Elliott.

These workouts are unlikely to sway Cooper much either way though as Mullins said his horses were simply on a day out.

“This was just to get their eye in a bit and let the riders get a feel of them. Vautour was just idling when he made the mistake. He takes a lot of work and Don Poli is very lazy too. So this was an easy day for them, not a trial or anything,” said a satisfied champion trainer.

Aidan O’Brien’s Triumph Hurdle contender Ivanovich Gorbatov also galloped after racing while his stable companion Aspen Colorado was expected to have little more than a remunerative workout himself in the final race on the card.

However the possible Cheltenham Bumper candidate ultimately had only half a length in hand of the newcomer Brelade at the line.

Bookmaker reaction was to leave the Aidan O’Brien trained horse at 12/1 for the festival and Joseph O’Brien said: “He won it nicely and JP (McManus) and Frank (Berry) will decide during the week if he goes to Cheltenham. I’d be happy to go, but I’d be happy to wait too.”

Most eyes are on Cheltenham but Henry De Bromhead is already eagerly looking forward to Liverpool’s Grand National festival for Alisier D’Irlande who justified short odds in style in the novice chase.

The exciting front-runner was never troubled in a race his former stable companion Sizing Granite won a year ago, prior to landing the Grade 1 Maghull Novices Chase in Aintree. De Bromhead reckons Alisier D’Irlande is worth a crack at the same race.

“Sizing Granite beat Dysios (runner up) too last year and I think better ground on a sharp track like Liverpool will suit this horse. His jumping definitely improved on this slightly better ground and he’s an exciting horse for us. He’s got a lot of flair,” said the Co. Waterford trainer.

I’m All You Need was second past the post in this race but was disqualified when his rider, Jack Kennedy, weighed in almost 13lbs light.

I’m All You Need’s trainer Paul Nolan also had Fine Article (last) in the race and the lead cloths for both horses got accidentally mixed up. Fine Article carried almost 13lbs too much. Nolan told the stewards he’d been distracted by the fractious Fine Article when saddling both horses and he was fined E500 by the stewards for the mistake.

Earlier the Co. Wexford trainer had a winner when Solita completed a 169-1 double for jockey Robbie Power in a handicap hurdle, just edging out Lilshane in a close finish. Power had earlier scored on Jessica Harrington’s Jett in the opening maiden hurdle.

Great Field made an impressive Irish debut in the conditions hurdle for owner JP McManus, winning smoothly despite being keen in the early stages under Barry Geraghty, and possibly earning a trip to Cheltenham for a handicap.

“He’s had a setback or two but we put him in the handicaps and we’ll see what he gets into. He was very keen which is not going to Cheltenham but I hope he was just fresh. And he jumped fantastic,” said Willie Mullins.

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