Vautour will now run in Thursday’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after owner Rich Ricci decided to switch him from Friday’s Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old has struggled to find top form in recent times, as he could only finish second on his last outing in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
With Ricci already having Djakadam running in the Gold Cup, he has now decided to move Vautour to the Ryanair Chase, although he admits the late switch is not ideal.
Ricci said: “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.”
Trainer Willie Mullins concedes that switching Vautour was probably the right thing to do, as jockey Ruby Walsh can now fully focus on riding Djakadam in the Gold Cup.
Mullins said: “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 (Djakadam).”
Vautour will now compete in the Ryanair Chase and he is available at 1.73 to win the race, while his nearest rival is expected to be Road To Riches, who is on offer at 8.00.