SkyBet Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Grade 1
£120,000 added,
4yo plus,
2m 110y, Class 1
Tuesday 11th March 2014

1 Vautour 7/2J
2 Josses Hill 14/1
3 Vaniteux 11/1
18 ran Distances: 6l, ½l, 1l
TIME 3m 46.40s (fast by 4.60s)

© Caroline Norris

Vautour produced a sensational performance to land the opening race of The Festival, the Sky Bet Novices' Hurdle, by six lengths from runner-up Josses Hill.

The 7/2 joint-favourite was always in command turning for home and when jockey Ruby Walsh asked him for a finishing kick, he took off up the hill to record a commanding success. Trainer Willie Mullins was visibly surprised after the race and was full of praise for the five-year-old following the opener.

"We knew he was a good horse but I wasn't quite expecting that!" said Mullins.

"He was a bit free over the first couple of hurdles but once he relaxed a bit and Ruby (Walsh) had accepted that he wanted to get on with it, he let him gallop and use his stride. Next thing you know, he was on a different set of rails to the other horses - that's what I found amazing. I said that if he could keep it up, he was going to put in a performance like he did.

"It was a fantastic performance - he's treated them like a bunch of maidens. I was hoping he could win but I can't get over the way he won and he seemed in control for most of the race.

"Apart from a blip at the second last, it looked like he was always going to win and when the crowd roared turning for home, he took off. It was an extraordinary performance - you could see the whole way to the winning post that he was just looking round and idling. I'm looking forward to seeing him over fences as he looks every inch a novice chaser. We think he'll stay and he should be some chaser. I think he'll be going over fences next season."

Jockey Ruby Walsh was all smiles as he returned to the winner's enclosure and revealed that he wasn't going to let the race turn into a slowly run affair.

"I had it in my head that I was going to ride this horse as if he was a stayer but I wasn't going to come back in and kick myself for going too slow," said Walsh.

"He jumped super - it was a bit of a grab at the third last. I have been doubting him all week but, Jesus, he is a good horse. He didn't settle. He was in my hands the whole way but he jumped super when I needed him and he didn't stop.

"When I got down to the second last, he pricked his ears and I thought 'thank God, he hasn't done too much and there's a bit left'. I gave him a tap on the shoulder and he lengthened off the bend - I knew then that the fast horses were going to have to really stay to get by him. He dug it out all the way to the line.

"We thought that he was a hell of a horse. But he worked with Wicklow Brave and Wicklow Brave looked so much quicker. You start thinking that this fellow is maybe not as good as we thought. He proved to me today that he is a hell of a horse. He was good enough to win today and that's all that counts.

"You can make too much of winning here. This morning was a cold and timely reminder with Jason Maguire. There's a lot more to life than riding winners at Cheltenham. A P showed a picture of Archie before racing and you think 'Jesus, thank God my kids are all right at home'. It's a big week but there's more to life than Cheltenham."

Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1)
£120,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 110y, Class 1
18 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Good in Places

W P Mullins
R Walsh
11st 7lbs
7 - 2
Josses Hill
N J Henderson
A Tinkler
11st 7lbs
14 - 1
6 lengths
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 7lbs
11 - 1
1/2 length
Sgt Reckless
M R Channon
D Elsworth
11st 7lbs
33 - 1
1 length
Wilde Blue Yonder
A King
R Thornton
11st 7lbs
25 - 1
1 length
Wicklow Brave
W P Mullins
P Townend
11st 7lbs
8 - 1
1 length
Western Boy
P A Fahy
D N Russell
11st 7lbs
20 - 1
3/4 length
Un Ace
K C Bailey
Aidan Coleman
11st 7lbs
40 - 1
3/4 length
P F Nicholls
Nick Scholfield
11st 7lbs
7 - 2
Valseur Lido
W P Mullins
B J Cooper
11st 7lbs
16 - 1
The Liquidator
D Pipe
T Scudamore
11st 7lbs
12 - 1
1/2 length
Three Kingdoms
J P Ferguson
D F O'Regan
11st 7lbs
33 - 1
1/2 length
E Bolger
A P McCoy
11st 7lbs
9 - 1
3 1/2 lengths
Garde La Victoire
P J Hobbs
R Johnson
11st 7lbs
33 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
Splash of Ginge
N A Twiston-Davies
Sam Twiston-Davies
11st 7lbs
20 - 1
1 1/2 length
Sky Khan
R C Guest
Jake Greenall
11st 7lbs
100 - 1
6 lengths
Germany Calling
C E Longsdon
N Fehily
11st 7lbs
100 - 1
12 lengths
Fantasy King
James Moffatt
B Hughes
11st 7lbs
150 - 1
4 lengths



After Vautour's scintillating victory, winning owner Rich Ricci had one aim - to watch a replay of the race.

Ricci, a banker whose wife Susannah is the official owner of Vautour, admitted he was too nervous to watch much of the race live, even though he must have felt a sense of deja vu. Twelve months ago the Ricci colours were carried to success in the same race by Champagne Fever, who also made all.

Ricci, welcoming his fourth Festival winner, said: "That was fantastic. We thought he was good, but he stuffed them. I thought he was a bit keen at the start, but I didn't watch too much more and just let my friend Joe tell me what was going on.

"I was too nervous, but he was great and I cannot wait to see the replay.

"I knew Ruby [Walsh] would keep the horse handy and we said that if nothing else wanted to make the running we would do it, and boy he did. I didn't have a bet on him.

"He's a lovely-looking horse and will make some chaser."

French bloodstock agent Pierre Boulard, working with Harold Kirk, bought Vautour on Ricci's behalf after the horse had run twice in France for trainer Guillaume Macaire. Boulard said: "He was second at Pau, then second at Auteuil, 12 months ago last Sunday, and although he wasn't very fit on that day I thought he was a very interesting horse.

"He was very well bred - Willie has a very good record with horses by Robin Des Champs - and the mare was useful. He was expensive at the time, but he's not expensive now.

"You don't have to do any schooling with a horse that you buy from Macaire, but Willie and Ruby make the difference."


Nicky Henderson saddled Jossies Hill to finish runner-up and Vaniteux to take third place and he hopes that bodes well for the future.

© Racehorse Photos

"These are two lovely young horses and all my good novices have finished (there) in the places in this race. The likes of Sprinter Sacre (third in 2011), Binocular (second in 2008), Darlan (second in 2012) and My Tent Or Yours (second in 2013) were placed in this," said Henderson.

"They are both horses for the future but it was a bit agonising to have run so well yet be thumped like that by the winner. They won't have too much more racing this season."

Alan Spence, owner of Jossies Hill, added: "The horse's scopes have been bad and Nicky said we could have done with another week. But I don't think he'd have beaten the winner even with another week. We'll go chasing next season."

Fourth-placed Sgt Reckless finished with a wet sail and trainer Mick Channon said: "He got too far back and I'm not sure why. He was squeezed out and then in last place at the first. He was so far back but he flew home and we always thought he was a good horse.

"We've been waiting for some decent ground so we'll keep going with him."



2013-WINNER-CHAMPAGNE FEVER 6-11-07 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-5/1
2ND-My Tent Or Yours 6-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-15/8 Fav
3RD-Jezki 5-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Robert Power; SP-5/1
12 ran, Time-3m 55.60s; Dist-½, 2¼

2012-WINNER-CINDERS AND ASHES 5-11-07 Owner-Dermot Hanafin & Phil Cunningham; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-10/1
2ND-Darlan 5-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-7/1
3RD-Trifolium 5-11-07 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Charles Byrnes IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP-15/2
19 ran, Time-3m 52.70s; Dist-1¼, nk 6/1 Fav Galileo’s Choice (7th)

2011-WINNER-AL FEROF 6-11-07 Owner-John Hales; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-10/1
2ND-Spirit Son 5-11-07 Owner-Michael Buckley; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-5/1
3RD-Sprinter Sacre 5-11-07 Owner-Caroline Mould; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-11/1
15 ran, Time-3m 52.10s; Dist-2, 31⁄4 7/4 Fav Cue Card (4th)

2010-WINNER-MENORAH 5-11-07 Owner-Diana Whateley; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-12/1
2ND-Get Me Out Of Here 6-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-9/2
3RD-Dunguib 7-11-07 Owner-Dan Hartnett/Lily Lawlor; Trainer-Philip Fenton IRE; Jockey-Brian O’Connell; SP-4/5 Fav
18 ran, Time-3m 56.52s; Dist-hd, 1¾

2009-WINNER-GO NATIVE 6-11-07 Owner-Docado Syndicate; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-12/1
2ND-Medermit 5-11-07 Owner-The Dunkley & Reilly Partnership; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-12/1
3RD-Somersby 5-11-07 Owner-Camilla Radford; Trainer-Henrietta Knight; Jockey-Dominic Elsworth; SP-40/1
20 ran, Time-4m 1.00s; Dist-nk, 2¾ 9/4 Fav Cousin Vinny (5th)

2008-WINNER-CAPTAIN CEE BEE 7-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Edward Harty IRE; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-17/2
2ND-Binocular 4-10-13 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-8/1 Co Fav
3RD-Snap Tie 6-11-07 Owner-Diana Whateley; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-20/1
22 ran, Time-4m 6.45s; Dist-2, 4½ 8/1 Co Favs Pigeon Island (11th), Muirhead (12th)

2007-WINNER-EBAZIYAN 6-11-07 Owner-Peter Garvey; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Davy Condon; SP-40/1
2ND-Granit Jack 5-11-07 Owner-John Hales; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-15/2
3RD-Amaretto Rose 6-11-00 Owner-Weatherbys Racing Club; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-2/1 Fav
22 ran, Time-3m 56.1s; Dist-3, nk

2006-WINNER-NOLAND 5-11-07 Owner-John Hales; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-6/1
2ND-Straw Bear 5-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nick Gifford; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-11/1
3RD-Buena Vista 5-11-07 Owner-Matt Archer & the late Jean Broadhurst; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Timmy Murphy; SP-14/1 20 ran, Time-3m 54.50s; Dist-nk, 1¼ 5/2 Fav Sweet Wake (5th)

2005-WINNER-ARCALIS 5-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Graham Lee: SP-20/1
2ND-Wild Passion 5-11-07 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-10/1
3RD-Dusky Warbler 6-11-07 Owner-Mike Charlton & Rodger Sargent; Trainer-Gary Moore; Jockey-Jamie Moore; SP-20/1 20 ran, Time-3m 53.00s; Dist-6, ½ 13/2 Fav Marcel (13th)

2004-WINNER-BRAVE INCA 6-11-07 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Barry Cash; SP-7/2 Fav
2ND-War Of Attrition 5-11-07 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Mouse Morris IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-33/1
3RD-Fleet Street 5-11-07 Owner-Henry Ponsonby; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-20/1
19 ran, Time-3m 55.60s; Dist-nk, 7

2003-WINNER-BACK IN FRONT 6-11-08 Owner-Dermot Cox; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-3/1 Fav
2ND-Kicking King 5-11-08 Owner-Conor Clarkson; Trainer-Tom Taaffe IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-13/2
3RD-Chauvinist 8-11-08 Owner-Bunny & Nick Roberts; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-20/1
19 ran, Time-3m 56.80s; Dist-10, 4

2002-WINNER-LIKE-A-BUTTERFLY 8-11-03 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Christy Roche IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-7/4 Fav
2ND-Westender 6-11-08 Owner-Matt Archer and Jean Broadhurst; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-6/1
3RD-In Contrast 6-11-08 Owner-Peter Emery and A Staple; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-16/1
28 ran, Time-3m 54.25s; Dist-nk, 2½

2001 - Cancelled (Foot and Mouth Disease)

2000-WINNER-SAUSALITO BAY 6-11-08 Owner-The High Street Racing Syndicate; Trainer- Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-14/1
2ND-Best Mate 5-11-08 Owner-Jim Lewis; Trainer-Henrietta Knight; Jockey-Jim Culloty; SP-6/1
3RD-Youlneverwalkalone 6-11-08 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Christy Roche IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-5/4 Fav 15 ran, Time-3m 51.70s; Dist-¾, 1¼

1999-WINNER-HORS LA LOI III 4-11-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-9/2
2ND-Joe Mac 5-11-08 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Christy Roche IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-6/1
3RD-Arctic Fancy 6-11-08 Owner-The Cool Customers; Trainer-Julian Smyth-Osbourne; Jockey-Warren Marston; SP-66/1 20 ran, Time-3m 54.6s; Dist-17, 7 11/4 Fav Cardinal Hill (ur)

1998-WINNER-FRENCH BALLERINA 5-11-03 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Pat Flynn IRE; Jockey-Graham Bradley; SP-10/1
2ND-His Song 5-11-08 Owner-David Lloyd; Trainer-Mouse Morris IRE; Jockey-Richard Hughes; SP-4/1 Fav
3RD-Gatflax 6-11-08 Owner-Giles Clarke; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Carl Llewellyn; SP-16/1
30 ran, Time-3m 50.9s, Dist-7, 1

1997-WINNER-SHADOW LEADER 6-11-08 Owner-James Blackshaw; Trainer-Charles Egerton; Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-5/1
2ND-Princeful 6-11-08 Owner-Robert & Elizabeth Hitchins; Trainer-Jenny Pitman; Jockey-Rodney Farrant; SP-25/1
3RD-Nordic Breeze 5-11-08 Owner-Malcolm Jones; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-David Walsh; SP-100/1
16 ran, Time-3m 49.5s, Dist-10, ½ 2/1 Fav Finnegan’s Hollow (f)

1996-WINNER-INDEFENCE 5-11-08 Owner-Indef Limited; Trainer-Jenny Pitman; Jockey-Warren Marston; SP-25/1
2ND-Kimanicky 6-11-08 Owner-Elaine Barnes; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-11/2
3RD-Castle Sweep 5-11-08 Owner-Lord Vestey; Trainer-David Nicholson; Jockey-Peter Niven; SP-7/2 Fav
27 ran, Time-4m 1.8s, Dist-8, hd

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