Vautour excites Willie Mullins in workout

Willie Mullins singled out JLT Novices’ Chase hopeful Vautour for special praise after a post-racing workout after racing at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Vautour excites Willie Mullins in workout

Vautour was one of a trio of Cheltenham Festival-bound runners to strut their stuff for Mullins, with Betfred Gold Cup hopeful Djakadam and Un De Sceaux, who is viewed by many as a banker in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy, also in action.

Mullins said: “They worked over more or less a mile and a half and jumped a few fences.

“I was very pleased with them and they put in a good round of jumping. Vautour was very good.”

Gordon Elliott was thrilled with his army of Cheltenham Festival aspirants after a good chunk of his yard worked after racing at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The County Meath handler is especially looking forward to big Ryanair Chase hope Don Cossack, who was one of the stand-out names amongst a 17-strong posse of horses.

“I’m very happy with them all,” said Elliott. “They went at half-speed and quickened up the last couple of furlongs.

“We’ll not learn much from that, but it gets them to stretch their legs and they all did it nicely.

“All of the lads seemed happy. Once they are all okay, it’s all systems go.

“Don Cossack looks a millions dollars and I’m very happy with him.

“I had Shane McCann on No More Heroes as he’s as good a judge as there is in the yard and he was happy with him.

“Game Changer has an awful lot of speed and worked very well, while I was also happy with Clarcam.

“Hostile Fire is in the Fred Winter and looks well enough weighted.

“Taglietelle goes for the Coral Cup and he stays well.”

Meanwhile Bryan Cooper rates Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Road To Riches as one of his best mounts as this year’s Festival approaches.

As retained rider to Gigginstown House Stud, Cooper has the pick of their runners and named the Noel Meade-trained winner of this season’s Champion Chase and Lexus Chase as one he is looking forward to.

He also singled out the Gordon Elliott duo of Don Cossack, likely for the Ryanair Chase, and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle fancy No More Heroes as other very good mounts.

“At this stage final plans are still to be decided and we don’t know yet exactly where every horse will run,” Cooper told his blog.

“The ones I’m really looking forward to at the moment are Don Cossack, Road To Riches and No More Heroes.

“They should all go there with great chances but I’m not nominating one as my best ride as that’ll probably get them beat!

“Outlander and Tell Us More are also great rides to have, but there is no final plan with them yet. The Neptune looks the obvious race for Outlander.”

Gwencily Berbas is set to line up in the Fred Winter instead of the Triumph Hurdle. The Barry Connell-owned four-year-old was a winner at Auteuil in his homeland, prompting connections to give him Festival engagements, and he could not have been more impressive on his first start for trainer Alan Fleming at Fairyhouse last weekend.

Connell and Fleming were waiting on the British handicapper’s assessment of the performance before committing to a Festival target and now he has been handed a mark of 139, he is set to go down the handicap route in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle on the Wednesday of Cheltenham. Fleming said: “He’ll go for the Fred Winter. I’m nearly 100 per cent sure.”

Connell said: “He’s been given a nice mark for the Fred Winter so that’s where we’re going to go.”

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