Vautour

Vautour Race Horse

VAUTOUR HORSE

Born in France, Vautour was bred by Haras de Saint Voir and Patrick Joubert. The performances of dam Gazelle De Mai weren’t much to go by, but sire Robin Des Champs certainly made a name for himself in French jump racing, taking four wins and a place from his five notable French race meetings including the Prix Rush, the Prix Champaubert, the Prix Go Ahead, the Prix Stanley, and the Prix Aguado.

A bright start saw three-year-old Vautour finishing second in the Prix Jean D’Ariste and the Prix Ventriloque, leading to Rich Ricci and Susannah Ricci buying him and sending him to Ireland, where he was trained by Willie Mullins. Holding two reputable records in both chases and hurdles presented Vautour’s immense quality, but he unfortunately died at Willie Mullins stable in 2016 after mysteriously breaking his leg in one of the paddocks. It was a massive shame for horse racing, especially as it meant that we would never be able to see Vautour win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which Willie Mullins was steadily preparing him for up until his untimely death.

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VAUTOUR RACES

The first major race meeting for Vautour saw some promise as he finished second behind Vizir D’Estruval in the Prix Jean D’Ariste, following it up with another win in France as he also clinched second in the Prix Ventriloque. It was at this point that he was moved to Ireland, starting in his first Irish race in the following December, where he won the Kells Maiden Hurdle at Navan. Willie Mullins clearly regarded Vautour as being ready to challenge at the highest level, as he entered him into a further six races in the new year, starting off with a win at Punchestown in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.

Now sitting with two successive wins, Vautour went on to win the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Beginners Chase at Navan, and most impressively, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival. He also finished second at Leopardstown in the Racing Post Novice Chase, getting back to winning ways a month later when he returned to the same racecourse to win the Leopardstown Killiney Novice Chase.

Attempting to win at Cheltenham Festival after winning in the previous year comes with its difficulties, but Vautour showed no sign of wavering, winning in the 2015 JLT Novices’ Chase. Vautour picked up his first win at Ascot in November - winning the Stella Artois 1965 Chase - before finishing off the year in second place at the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton. His premature death made 2016 the last year where Vautour ran, winning the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, and resulting second in the BoyleSports Champion Chase at Punchestown.

VAUTOUR AT CHELTENHAM

Often regarded as the year’s biggest horse racing event, Cheltenham Festival is bound to be a reliable way of measuring a horse’s quality. Vautour remains as one of the only horses to hold a 100% record at Cheltenham, which makes it even more of a tragedy that we didn’t get to see how he’d fare in future race meetings. His first entry came in 2014, where he won the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He then appeared in The Golden Miller Novices’ Chase, where he once again finished first, before winning The Festival Trophy Chase in 2016, going into the race as the favourite and winning comfortably ahead of second place Valseur Lido, who was also trained by Willie Mullins.

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