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JLT Novices' Chase
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Cheltenham 14:05
Grade 1, £120,000 added,
5yo plus,
2m 4f, Class 1    
Thursday 12th March 2015

1 Vautour 6/4
2 Apache Stronghold 7/1
3 Valseur Lido 9/2
NR: The Tullow Tank (IRE)
8 ran Distances: 15l, shd, 3l
TIME 4m 46.30s (fast by 3.70s)

A spectacular round of jumping, ears pricked out in front, that's the way to do it! VAUTOUR hoses up in the JLT

Vautour
© Caroline Norris
Vautour

With an exceptionally impressive display of jumping, Vautour gave Willie Mullins his sixth winner of The Festival so far when taking the JLT Novices' Chase by 15 lengths. The six-year-old, owned by Rich Ricci, also took the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at last year's Festival.

Mullins said: "I've always loved this horse, from the time he won here last year. I just couldn't get him back [to that form] and I've had to really work hard at him for the past three weeks to get him back into that shape today, but that's probably what he needs - just hard work. I've probably been minding him too much all season.

"I made sure he did plenty of work and I don't like doing that, but he needed it because he wasn't coming into form and it was a bit 'do or die', but he did come right.

"I was just hoping he would get over the last two [fences]. The race is over turning for home and it's just a question of jumping, and he absolutely flew them. I don't know what was going through Ruby's head after Annie Power the other day but I think he just committed and said 'here we go', and was bang, bang over the last two.

"He's definitely a Gold Cup horse."

Mathematician Betting

JLT Novices' Chase
(Registered as The Golden Miller Novices' Chase)
Grade 1, £120,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 4f, Class 1
8 ran
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places

Pos Dist Horse SP Jockey /Weight Trainer Age
1st Vautour (FR) 6/4f R Walsh
11-4
W P Mullins 6
2nd 15 Apache Stronghold (IRE) 7/1 P Carberry
11-4
N Meade 7
3rd s.h Valseur Lido (FR) 9/2 B J Cooper
11-4
W P Mullins 6
4th 3 Irish Saint (FR) 8/1 N D Fehily
11-4
P F Nicholls 6
5th nk Ptit Zig (FR) 11/2 S Twiston-Davies
11-4
P F Nicholls 6
6th 25 Tango De Juilley (FR) 40/1 Aidan Coleman
11-4
Miss V Williams 7
7th 8 Splash of Ginge 14/1 Ryan Hatch
11-4
N A Twiston-Davies 7
8th 8 Colour Squadron (IRE) 18/1 A P McCoy
11-4
P J Hobbs 9
NR The Tullow Tank (IRE) A P Heskin
11-4
Ms S Hughes 7

Ruby Walsh stepped from the back of Vautour in the winner's enclosure, turned to trainer Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci, and exclaimed "Get in!".

Such a show of elation is rare in the great jockey, but it says much about the Vautour performance, one that followed his win in last year's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Today he annihilated a quality field, winning by 15 lengths and a short-head from Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido.

Walsh said: "He's a very, very good horse. When Willie and I talked about plans for this horse last autumn I maintained he wanted a trip - he won the Supreme by purely staying and if we took him to the right distance he would be even better. Today over two and a half miles he jumped like a gazelle and quickened up so impressively off the bend - I would say it was flawless. The horses behind are very good and he ran them ragged. Yes, brilliant.

"The first morning we schooled him over four fences he was almost too good. The next time he went back over them he stood on his head, but he hasn't made a mistake since then. He's full of confidence and the hardest job I had was riding him back to the winner's enclosure. The rest was easy.

"He's the real deal - I may be wrong but you have to dream. I've always loved him and his pedigree would suggest he could get any trip. I stuck my neck out and said this horse is going chasing, so it feels good to have worked out so well.

"He wasn't right at Christmas and people jumped on the bandwagon and knocked him, but we tipped away and he schooled beautifully at Leopardstown last Saturday week and worked well last Thursday. The trainer got him spot on for this."

Asked to compare Vautour and Tuesday's Racing Post Arkle Trophy winner Un De Sceaux, Walsh said: "There will be no match up - one is going up in trip [Vautour] while the other is staying where he is. I'd say Vautour would be a better match up with his other stablemate, Don Poli [who won yesterday's RSA Chase].

"Late last summer we sat down and talked about plans, and I'm glad it has worked out as I suggested. I can just see Willie Mullins giving me a hard time if it hadn't and he'd been saying 'Vautour should have won the Champion Hurdle and Faugheen should have won the JLT'."

Meade happy with Apache

Trainer Noel Meade was happy enough with the performance of Apache Stronghold after the seven-year-old battled back strongly to finish second behind runaway winner Vautour.

Apache Stronghold
© Caroline Norris
Apache Stronghold

The 7/1 had been overtaken by eventual third (and stablemate of the winner) Valseur Lido at the final fence but ran on gamely to snatch second by a short-head, 15 lengths behind the Willie Mullins-trained winner.

"He ran a cracker," said Meade.

"The winner is a very, very good horse though. As someone said as he came in, he's an aeroplane. We were sort of left in no man's land really after Christmas and I still wasn't sure I was doing the right thing by bringing him back to two and a half.

"It turns out we would have had a better chance of beating Don Poli (winner of yesterday's RSA Chase) than we would have of beating him anyway!

"I'd imagine he'll be kept to longer distances next year.

"One thing's for certain, wherever he's (Vautour) going, we won't be!"

Jockey Bryan Cooper was also happy with Valseur Lido after the race.

"He's run well but we had no chance with the winner.

"The ground's ok out there. It's similar to yesterday but it's drying out all the time."

Previous results - JLT NOVICES’ CHASE

2014-TAQUIN DU SEUIL 7-11-04 Owner-Martin Broughton & Friends 1; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-7/1
2ND-Uxizandre 6-11-04 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-33/1
3RD-Double Ross 8-11-04 Owner-Options O Syndicate; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-11/1
12 ran, Time-4m 56.72s Dist-¾, 1¼ 7/2 Fav Felix Younger (4th)

2013-WINNER-BENEFFICIENT 7-11-04 Owner-Adrian Shiels & Niall Reilly; Trainer-Tony Martin IRE; Jockey-Bryan Cooper; SP-20/1
2ND-Dynaste 7-11-04 Owner-John White; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-11/8 Fav
3RD-Changing Times 7-11-04 Owner-C J Haughey; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-100/1
13 ran, Time-5m 4.80s Dist-3¼, 1

2012-WINNER-SIR DES CHAMPS 6-11-04 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP-3/1
2ND-Champion Court 7-11-04 Owner-Martin Boothwright; Trainer-Martin Keighley; Jockey-Alain Cawley; SP-8/1
3RD-For Non Stop 7-11-04 Owner-Chris Giles & Jared Sullivan; Trainer-Nick Williams; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-8/1
10 ran, Time-4m 52.80s Dist-4½, 9

2011-WINNER-NOBLE PRINCE 7-11-04 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Paul Nolan IRE; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-4/1
2ND-Wishfull Thinking 8-11-04 Owner-Diana Whateley; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-7/2 Fav
3RD-Loosen My Load 7-11-04 Owner-Alan & Ann Potts Partnership; Trainer-Henry De Bromhead IRE; Jockey-Andrew Lynch; SP-15/2
11 ran, Time-4m 49.82s Dist-4, 5

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