Sunday 21 January 2018

Katie Walsh: Vautour's the best display of the festival so far

Ruby Walsh on Vautour celebrates winning the 13.30 JLT Novices' Chase
Ruby Walsh on Vautour celebrates winning the 13.30 JLT Novices' Chase

I spoke to Ruby yesterday morning and he was extremely bullish about Vautour’s chances and while I did think he was capable of winning, I certainly didn’t see him putting up a performance like he did.

Going into today’s action there is certainly no doubt that he was the most impressive winner of the week so fare and he really did return to the Vautour we saw win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle here last year.

I didn’t have the confidence in him that Ruby and David Casey had but they were right and the Vautour that won his Beginners Chase at Navan at the start of the season returned and was exceptional.

Willie Mullins is just having an incredible week and the horses are running great.

Almost everything that deserved to win or run well has done so and he has just managed to get them all here in tip-top shape and that is why he is such a good trainer.

Unfortunately, we had no joy with either of our two runners yesterday.

We were very disappointed with Foxrock in the Ryanair but that’s racing isn’t it?

You can’t just come over here and expect things to happen and walk away with a winner.

We don’t know what happened really, maybe it was the quick runs in quick succession but he’s been here to Cheltenham twice now and it hasn’t really happened so there’s a few questions that we will have to answer.

I thought Champagne James ran well. We were going into a trip we didn’t know about with him and he was a bit careful early but when he warmed up and got into a rhythm he was very good but on the good ground they just didn’t come back to me like I had hoped they would.

We could have done with the bit of rain that was forecast but that never came and I just found myself a little flat-footed at the back of some of them.

But the main thing is that both horses are back safe and well and are on the way home now and while there is no definite plans written in stone yet I would imagine that is it for the season for both of them.

At this stage, there is no point in breaking Champagne James’ novice status so I’d say he’ll be put away until next season and I’d say Foxrock has done enough before being brought back and aimed at races like the Durkan at Punchestown and the Lexus at Leopardstown.

With Foxrock not getting into the mix it was then brilliant for AP to win the race for JP McManus on

Uxizandre to make sure that he got at least one winner at his final Cheltenham Festival.

There’s going to be pages and pages written about him over the coming month or six weeks and no matter what happens between now and when he retires, you can never take anything away from what he has achieved but in saying all that it would have been a real shame to see him leave

Cheltenham without a winner this week and it was a fine way to get one - in a Grade One.

As always at Cheltenham, the crowd were there to welcome him back, both in front of the stands and back into the winners enclosure and that is another memory that he’ll have forever I’m sure and if AP manages to win the Gold Cup this afternoon, the roof will probably come off the stand.

You can have all the racing you want but this morning there was some positive news regarding amateur jockey Tom Weston who was in a stable condition in hospital after being airlifted from the racecourse yesterday after a fall in the Kim Muir.

Tom punctured two lungs but I just want to wish him all the best and a very speedy recovery.

Looking ahead to the weekend and I've a nice ride on Kate Appleby Shoes in the Ladies Bumper at Limerick tomorrow and on Sunday I'm in Navan on Sunday to ride Dylrow for Robbie Hennessy who I was fourth on first time out and hopefully he'll step forward again.

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