Vauban lands G1 Triumph Hurdle

By Andrew Atkinson

Willie Mullins saddled Vauban tipped by to land the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle over 2m ridden by Paul Townend at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday.

Heavily backed 11-4 favourite Vauban swept through the field, sitting midfield, prior to taking the lead to win by 2 1/2 lengths, ahead of Fil Dor (11-2) and Pied Piper (7-2) third, to bag the £75,000 winner’s purse.

“We always said he was kind of a work in progress and he’s improved every day, and he can improve again,” said Townend.

“They went no gallop and he’s learning about National Hunt racing all the time.

“I hadn’t planned on being in front going down to the last truth be told, but it’s just the way it worked out.

“He had a little look around but I knew I there was loads the there,” added Townend.

Vauban has been cut to 7-1 from 14-1 for next season’s Champion Hurdle and owner Rich said: “I didn’t see it. I turned round to watch him jump the last – and he flattened it – but gee, when Paul asked him to go he had so much pace.”

Vauban has been mooted to could run the Flat: “We bought him as a dual campaigner – so I wouldn’t mind running him on the Flat,” said Ricci.

The Ebor and Melbourne Cup have been flagged up and Ricci said: “Certainly with that performance, he jumped much better today, the Champion Hurdle has to be in our plans. “We’ll have a chat but I wouldn’t mind keeping him on the go for a little bit. He’s lightly raced, he’s a Listed winner in France, he’d be a lot of fun to have on the Flat, wouldn’t he?”

State Man wins G3 McCoy Handicap Hurdle

Willie Mullins trained State Man (11-4) favourite tipped by landed the 26 runners McCoy Contractors G3 Handicap Hurdle over 2m under Paul Townend at Cheltenham on Friday.

State Man – tenth winning tip at the Festival – was heavily backed and obliged punters faith in beating First Street (16-1) by 1 1/4 lengths, with Colonel Mustard (13-2), third.

“I just wanted a clear run and a safe ride round the outside,” said Townend.

Vauban (6-4) and State Man (11-4) returned a 9-1 double in the opening two races on the final day of the 2022 Festival.

The Nice Guy wins Albert Bartlett

Willie Mullins saddled The Nice Guy to victory in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle over 2m 7f to win the winning first prize of £78,680 under Sean O’Keeffe.

The Nice Guy gained a 5 lengths win ahead of each-way tip Minella Cocooner (9-2), from 11-2, with Bardenstown Lad (20-1), third.

“You couldn’t do it at a better place. He’s a lovely horse and very relaxed. He jumped great, a great performance,” said jubilant O’Keeffe.