Willie Mullins has confidence in Vautour’s jumping ahead of King George

Ascot left-handed jumping a new thing and not a cause for worry, trainer says

With the major Christmas meetings approaching, Willie Mullins says he is “very happy with how the whole yard is at the moment”.   Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

With the major Christmas meetings approaching, Willie Mullins says he is “very happy with how the whole yard is at the moment”. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Willie Mullins is confident Vautour’s jumping will not be an issue in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The Cheltenham winner’s comeback victory at Ascot last month was workmanlike rather than spectacular, with his tendency to edge left at fences considered by many as a negative as he prepares to tackle another right-handed circuit in the Boxing Day showpiece.

At a media morning at his Closutton base in Co Carlow, however, Mullins cut a content and confident figure. He said: “I never worry about what’s in the race, I always worry about getting there and just hope for the best.

“Him jumping left-handed is new, he did it at Ascot but I’ve never noticed it before, it hadn’t been something I’ve worried about.

“I think in a different run race, where he doesn’t have to lead, it wouldn’t be an issue.

“He hasn’t schooled since but he will do. He’s well able to jump.

“I think he’s very well, he worked very well here yesterday. I’ve had no worry. When I saw what he did yesterday, I only hope he can repeat that at Kempton.

“All ours were big, having their first run, we’d left something to work on, and there’s lots of improvement to come from all of them. I’m very happy with how the whole yard is at the moment.”

The champion trainer is set to be double-handed in the Kempton feature, with the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Valseur Lido being readied to join his stable companion on the trip across the Irish Sea.

While Vautour is vying for favouritism, Valseur Lido is as big as 33-1, but Mullins sees him as a lively outsider.

“It looks like three miles around there [Kempton] will really suit him. We had a chat the other day about the Lexus and it looks like they [Gigginstown] have enough for that, so all being well he’ll be heading to Kempton,” said Mullins.

Valseur Lido, runner-up to another stablemate in Djakadam in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, looks set to be the second-string of two King George runners for Gigginstown, along with Gordon Elliott’s Don Cossack.

Two runners

Mullins confirmed his intention to field two runners in the Lexus Chase for the leading owners in Don Poli and Sir Des Champs, and said he would love to have a crack at the Grand National with Don Poli.

The RSA Chase winner made a successful return to action when seeing off last season’s National hero Many Clouds at Aintree earlier this month and will aim to enhance his claims for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas.

While the Prestbury Park blue riband remains his main objective, Mullins believes the world’s most famous steeplechase could be worth targeting at some stage.

He said: “I’d love to run him in a National. “I think it’s great what Phil Smith (BHA head of handicapping) and Aintree have done with the race.

“They get criticised by some for what they’ve done to the fences, but if you look at what they’ve done to the race compared to where it was, they’ve done an unbelievable job.”

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