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Published: 10:22 | 15/3/16

Vautour to run in Ryanair


Vautour will run in Thursday's Ryanair Chase instead of the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, owner Rich Ricci has confirmed.

Doubts over Vautour's ability to handle the three-mile-two-furlong trip at Prestbury Park emerged when he was beaten a head by Cue Card in the William Hill King George VI Chase, but connections were happy to let him run in Friday's blue riband.

Speaking a preview evening last week, Ricci made it clear that Vautour would only travel to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup.

"We want to win the Gold Cup and if for whatever reason Vautour wasn't going to run in the Gold Cup he would stay at home," Ricci told a BetBright Cheltenham Festival preview evening in London.

However, connections have now decided to skip the Gold Cup in favour of Thursday's Ryanair Chase.

"We've said in recent weeks that he hasn't been pulling up trees in his work, but he's been working better lately," Ricci told The Morning Line.

"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."

Djakadam will carry Ricci's colours in the Gold Cup with trainer Willie Mullins admitting his wellbeing played a part in the decision.

"I'd probably had it in the back of my mind all along and Ruby could only ride one of them and I was keen for Ruby to ride him," Mullins said of the switch.

"We were all keen to go for the Gold Cup but the last day we were here Djakadam got a bad cut and he had some stitches in his chest and we didn't know that he'd make the Gold Cup.

"Only in the last week have we got enough work into him (Djakadam) and we were happy and then I started to think differently, but I never said anything to Rich and yesterday I started talking about it, and then this morning we said that was the way we were going to go."

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