Vautour to go in Ryanair Chase
Vautour will run in Thursday's Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival rather than waiting for Friday's Timico Gold Cup.
Owner Rich Ricci has confirmed the seven-year-old will line up in the extended two-and-a-half-mile event after failing to really impress in his recent work.
While trainer Willie Mullins has been happier with his form of late, connections feel it best to bypass Friday's feature, in which they also have Djakadam to run in the Ricci colours.
Ricci told Channel 4's The Morning Line: "We've said in recent weeks that he hasn't been pulling up trees in his work, but he's been working better lately.
"We've decided now to run him in the Ryanair - he'll be declared in an hour or so.
"I know we talked about whether he would go for the Gold Cup, that's been our intention all year, but it's a very a difficult race and if he's only 90 per cent right, then we don't want to ruin the horse.
"We feel the Ryanair is the best alternative. It's not ideal but it's still a great race, it's a Grade One."
Mullins admitted the Ryanair Chase had "probably" been in "the back of his mind all along" for Vautour, but pointed to Djakadam's current well-being as another consideration for the change in plan.
He said: "I'd probably had it in the back of my mind all along and Ruby could only ride one of them and I was keen for Ruby to ride him.
"We were all keen to go for the Gold Cup but the last day we were here Djakadam got a bad cut and he had some stitches in his chest and we didn't know that he'd make the Gold Cup.
"Only in the last week have we got enough work into him (Djakadam) and we were happy and then I started to think differently, but I never said anything to Rich and yesterday I started talking about it, and then this morning we said that was the way we were going to go."