Vautour a cool favourite

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: January 14 2014, 9:50 GMT

Vautour is a cool favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle following a narrow victory at Punchestown on Saturday.

Vautour: Has options for the Supreme and the Neptune at Cheltenham
Vautour: Has options for the Supreme and the Neptune at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins' hopeful edged out Western Boy by three quarters of a length to claim the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.

The method of victory failed to impress the layers, who have struggled to find a clear favourite for the Cheltenham Festival opener all season.

Several firms pushed Vautour out to 10/1; the sponsors were among those to leave the horse unchanged at 8/1.

Mullins helped muddy the waters by suggesting the Npetune Investement Management Novices' Hurdle could be the horse's Festival target.

"I don't know what distance we'll go for," said the trainer. "Maybe he's more of a Neptune horse than a Supreme."

Betfred duly went 16s from 33s for the Neptune. Boylesports left their quote at the latter price, although for how long remained to be seen.

Hayley O'Connor, of Ladbrokes, said: "The smart pre-race vibes for Vautour weren't exactly replicated on course as the Supreme favourite made hard work of his win."

Sky Bet's Michael Shinners added: "Vautour is favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' but we've left him unchanged at 8/1 as he had to really knuckle down to in today.

"We thought there might be a dominant presence at the top of the market after Saturday's action with informative trials either side of the Irish Sea, but it remains wide open at present."

That was a reference to the Tolworth Hurdle at Kempton, a race which saw Royal Boy edge out stablemate Josses Hill.

Royal Boy ended the day as short as 12/1 for the Supreme but Stan James were prepared to lay 25s, probably taking trainer Nicky Henderson's post-race comments firmly into consideration.

He said: "I thought about running Royal Boy at Warwick in the two and a half (mile race) but I thought that would be an awful slog and he's not a slow horse.

"I think you'd go two and a half at Cheltenham with him whereas Josses Hill is more of a two-miler.''

Royal Boy was given 20/1 quotes by Paddy Power and Stan James for the Neptune, which is the two-and-a-half mile race at the Festival.

The same firms, plus Boylesports, were prepared to offer 20s about Josses Hill for the Supreme.

William Hill's Jon Ivan-Duke suggested such prices were decent ones. His firm offered 12/1 about Josses Hill winning the Supreme - a price Ivan-Duke said "might not last long".

The Liquidator, the subject a big pre-race gamble, failed to feature and was subsequently lengthened to 25/1 for the Supreme by several firms, including Stan James, whose Rory Jiwani described the run as "very disappointing".

The race at Warwick referred to by Henderson was won by Deputy Dan, who duly earned several 16/1 quotes for the Neptune at Cheltenham.

He is also 16s with Hill's for the longer Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival.

Meanwhile, Captain Chris saw his Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup odds cut after winning the Chase on the same Kempton card.

888sport initially went into 16/1, although they later reverted to 25s. Despite winning by 23 lengths, Boylesports were still prepared to dangle 50/1.

Ladbrokes' David Williams said: "Captain Chris loves Kempton and whilst Cheltenham in March will be a very different challenge his performance warrants a quote of 25/1."

Saphir du Rheu won the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle and Sky Bet duly inserted the winner at 20/1 in their Ladbrokes World Hurdle market. bet365 and Paddy Power went 10s.

Corrin Wood upset Black Thunder at Warwick to earn RSA Chase and National Hunt Chase quotes.

Donald McCain's charge was put up at 25s for the RSA and 12s for the National Hunt - both prices being with Sky Bet.

Their spokesman Shinners said: "It will be interesting to see which route they decide to take with him, but he did seem to be jumping slightly to his right which could be a bit of a concern for Cheltenham."

  • Posted at 1520 GMT on 11/01/2014.