Vautour in shock Ryanair Chase switch


Owner Rich Ricci sprung a surprise on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival by revealing that Vautour will enter the Ryanair Chase rather than the Gold Cup.

Vautour was among the leading contenders to win the Gold Cup on Friday after Ricci and trainer Willie Mullins said the most prestigious race of the week would be the target for last year's JLT Novices Chase winner.

Ricci stated in the build-up to the Festival that Vautour would either enter the Gold Cup or stay at home, but confirmed on Tuesday that the horse will enter the less prestigious Ryanair Chase.

He told the Channel 4's 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."

Vautour has now been installed as an odds-on favourite to win the Ryanair Chase.