Cheltenham hero Vanillier ready to start his new career over fences

Cromwell’s grey up against Beacon Edge and Grand Paradis in a quality Beginners Chase

 Vanillier ridden by Jonathan Moore winning  the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last spring. Photograph:  Michael Steele/Getty Images

Vanillier ridden by Jonathan Moore winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last spring. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

 

Cheltenham Festival winner Vanillier starts his new career over fences in the Tote Ten To Follow Beginners Chase at Down Royal on Friday.

Trained by Gavin Cromwell, the grey bounded clear up the Cheltenham hill to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in March.

The two previous winners of that Festival contest, Minella Indo and Monkfish, have gone on to be seen as two of the best chasers in training – albeit the latter is currently sidelined – and Cromwell will be hoping Vanillier can reach similar heights.

He faces far from an easy task on his chasing debut, however, up against Noel Meade’s Beacon Edge – last season’s Boyne Hurdle hero – and Gordon Elliott’s Grand Paradis, winner of the Michael Purcell Memorial at Thurles.

“It looks a hot race – but it’s to be expected in Ireland at this time of year, especially at this meeting,” said Cromwell.

“We’re looking forward to getting him started off. He jumps well [at home] – and while we’ll step him up in trip as the season goes on, this looks a nice place to get him started.

“It was good to soft when he won at Cheltenham and it will be something similar again. He doesn’t need it bottomless, [so] the ground should be ideal.

“That day he came up the hill at Cheltenham he looked to be crying out for a fence, so we’re hoping it all goes well.”

Elsewhere on the card, Triumph Hurdle fourth Zanahiyr meets Cask Mate in what looks a match in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle

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