Shock as Vautour suffers fatal injury in accident
Willie Mullins, owner Rich Ricci and all the staff at Closutton were dealt a cruel blow yesterday as the news was revealed that Vautour suffered a fatal injury in what was a "freak accident" at Mullins' Closutton base.
The three-time Cheltenham Festival winner had dominated as a novice hurdler, a novice chaser and won the Ryanair Chase last season and was prominent in the betting for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham next March.
It is the latest blow to the champion trainer who last month lost 60 horses owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud after raising his fees.
And at Naas yesterday, the ante post favourite for the Hennessy Chase at Newbury, Avant Tout, had to be put down after he suffered a deep laceration to his off fore fetlock and was pulled up after the first fence in the Popular Square Chase.
Revealing the news about Vautour, Mullins admitted; "It's tough to take" and explained: "Vautour was out in the paddock with his usual companion, Shaneshill.
"One of the girls went out to feed him. There didn't appear to be anything untoward as Shaneshill was grazing away, but Vautour was found to have broken his foreleg.
"He goes out there every day and it's just a freak accident."
Meanwhile, Mullins' closest rival in terms of quality and quantity this season, Gordon Elliott, continues to dominate and his five-timer yesterday across Naas and Cork made it 13 winners in just four days for the Meath native.
Tell Us More got the better of his stable companion The Game Changer to claim the Grade Three Popular Square Chase, while De Plotting Shed justified the confidence behind him to make it three on the bounce in the Priory Walls Of Killgowan Hurdle, in which Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov could only finish third.
Elliott brought up his treble at Naas in the concluding bumper, when Jamie Codd made all the running aboard Brelade, a fourth winning favourite of the day at the County Kildare track.
Elliott's farrier, Gavin Cromwell, came to prominence as a trainer in his own right last season when Jer's Girl claimed Grade One honours.
And ahead of her return to action in the near future, Cromwell snared the Cork Grand National with Raz De Maree yesterday.