Vautour proved a class apart in cruising to victory in the Ryanair Chase for a third consecutive Cheltenham Festival success.
Winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and JLT Novices’ Chase in the previous two years, Vautour was switched from the Gold Cup to the Ryanair as he was only ’90 per cent’ fit.
That did not look the case, though, as Vautour showed no signs of any weakness as he took it up four out in the hands of Ruby Walsh before powering clear to beat stablemate Valseur Lido by six lengths.
With plenty of horses in the field who like to force the pace, there was a mad sprint to the first and, once things settled down, it was Village Vic who led from Road To Riches, who had also been considered for the Gold Cup.
Smashing raced on the outside, while Walsh settled Willie Mullins’ Vautour in fourth as the field jumped well throughout the 2m5f contest.
Walsh eased Vautour to the front on the run to the fourth last with Road To Riches for company, as Village Vic started to wilt and Al Ferof edged a little closer.
Turning for home, Vautour put three lengths between himself and Road To Riches in the blink of an eye and he pinged the second last before another good leap at the last put the seal on his success.
Vautour kept up the gallop all the way to the line as Valseur Lido stayed on to take second place ahead of Road To Riches and Al Ferof.
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