Vautour was a vintage winner of the JLT Novices' Chase, as the heavily-backed 6/4 favourite produced a masterful round of jumping in the 2m 4f Grade 1 to blitz his rivals in emphatic style and duly hand the sparkling triumvirate of Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and Rich Ricci another winner at this season's Cheltenham Festival.
A runaway winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at last season's festival, Vautour was piled into by the punters in the lead-up to the Thursday opener and favourite backers would've felt not element of danger throughout the JLT contest as the Irish star didn't missed a beat and stormed 15 lengths clear come the finish.
Sent to the front from the flag fall by Walsh, the six-year-old was joined in the early stages by Irish Saint, who had also gained significant support in the betting, but Paul Nicholls' charge was unable to live with his rival in the closing stages.
The main opposition appeared to come in the shape of Apache Stronghold, who travelled well into contention, but as he did 12 months ago, Vautour kicked as they turned for home and another sensational leap at the final fence put the race beyond any doubt and he propelled up the run-in to a memorable victory.
In an Irish 1-2-3 it was Apache Stronghold who fought off the second Willie Mullins-trained runner Valseur Lido, as the Co. Carlow handler notched up his sixth winner of what has been a stunning Cheltenham Festival for the Mullins battalion.