Vautour to miss Champion Chase but may still run at Punchestown
Trainer Willie Mullins not happy with horse’s work but will keep options open
Trainer Willie Mullins has taken Vautour out of Tuesday’s Champion Chase at Punchestown but may run the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hurdle winner later in the week at the festival. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Star novice Vautour will miss the Champion Chase at Punchestown after failing to sparkle in his final workout ahead of Tuesday’s feature event.
Willie Mullins had intended running the brilliant JLT Novices’ Chase winner against more experienced rivals in the two-mile Grade One, but will now rely on Champagne Fever (Ruby Walsh), Felix Yonger (Danny Mullins) and Twinlight (Paul Townend).
Vautour could, however, appear in Thursday’s Ryanair Novice Chase, a race in which he could meet Arkle-winning stable companion Un De Sceaux.
Mullins said: “I wasn’t happy with him (Vautour) this morning. He might run later in the week.”
The trio the champion trainer has declared feature in a 10-strong field.
Henry de Bromhead’s admirable teenager Sizing Europe bids to win the race for the third time, while Hidden Cyclone would be a popular winner for Shark Hanlon.
The Mouse Morris-trained Baily Green, Tony Martin’s pair Flemenstar and Savello and Tim Doyle’s stable star Mallowney complete the home team.
The only British challenger is David Bridgwater’s Oscar Hill.
The first Grade One event of this year’s Punchestown Festival is the Champion Novice Hurdle, for which the Mullins-trained Douvan will be all the rage following his stunning display in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.
He is reopposed by De Bromhead’s Supreme third Sizing John, who has seven lengths to find.
Blair Perrone, Rich Coast, Cardinal Palace and Velocity Boy complete a six-runner field.
Don Poli is another odds-on favourite for Mullins in the Champion Novice Chase.
The RSA Chase winner is joined by stable companion Valseur Lido, while Noel Meade is also double-handed with Apache Stronghold and Wounded Warrior in contention.
Valseur Lido and Apache Stronghold were placed behind Vautour at Cheltenham, but have since run at Fairyhouse.
Wounded Warrior has ground to make up on Don Poli after finishing third in the RSA.
A small but select line-up is completed by Irish Cavalier, a handicap winner at Cheltenham before falling at Aintree, for Rebecca Curtis.