Willie Mullins’s Vautour set for Punchestown

Philip Fenton confirms The Tullow Tank will be back at Leopardstown next month

 Danny Mullins and  The Tullow Tank clear the last hurdle on their way to winning the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Danny Mullins and The Tullow Tank clear the last hurdle on their way to winning the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Willie Mullins’s highly-regarded French import made an impressive Irish debut when beating Lieutenant Colonel at Navan a month ago, a performance that currently leaves him disputing 12/1 favouritism for the festival opener in March.

An impressive weekend performance is likely to see him cut in ante-post lists and Vautour is among eight left in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novices Hurdle after yesterday’s forfeit stage. Mullins used the Moscow Flyer for Mikael D’Hauguenet on-route to winning at the festival in 2009 and he has also left in both Lucky Bridle and Upazo.

Jessica Harrington has left in Mr Fiftyone, last seen when disappointing behind The Tullow Tank in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. The Tullow Tank’s trainer Philip Fenton confirmed yesterday that his dual-Grade One winning novice will attempt to follow up his success over Christmas, back at Leopardstown next month in the Deloitte Hurdle.

“That’s the next step. He was impressive the last day in that the further he went the better he was. You couldn’t but be impressed. He can race on and off the bridle so Danny (Mullins) did well because he’s not the easiest ride. Danny makes it look easier than it is, the Co. Tipperary trainer said.

The Drinmore winner Don Cossack, conqueror of the subsequent Grade One winner Carlingford Lough last month, will appear next in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase on Hennessy day at Leopardstown.