Walsh’s tribute to star duo

Ruby Walsh has paid tribute to the Willie Mullins-trained duo of Vautour and Avant Tout, both of whom have died in the last few days.

Ruby Walsh with Vautour in the Cheltenham winners' enclosure

Three-time Cheltenham Festival winner Vautour was put down after breaking his leg in a freak accident at the Wilie Mullins yard.

Walsh rode Vautour to all but one of his ten wins, including his three victories at the Cheltenham Festival in the 2014 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the 2015 JLT Novices' Chase and the Ryanair Chase in March.

"I'm very disappointed at the news of Vautour being put down and it is not the kind of news you want to hear," Walsh told Racing UK.

"You can look at all the racing and jumping he has done and to lose him in a field makes it worse. He was a horse with huge potential and it is a massive loss.

"People say you get hardened to it, but I do not know if that is true. It is not something you ever like to see. It has happened and can't be changed – it is so sad, that is what it is."

Walsh singled out their win in the 2015 JLT at the festival as the seven-year-old's finest moment.

"He showed blistering pace to win the Supreme at Cheltenham. After half a mile he was in a different gear to everything else in the race. But his best performance was in the JLT, beating Valseur Lido by about 15 lengths. The way he jumped that day was impressive.

"Last year we knew he wasn't in as good form and he still managed to win the Ryanair Chase.

Punchestown Festival winner Avant Tout had to be put down in action at Naas.

Walsh added: "It is very hard for connections to take – think of Dermot (Keeling) who looked after Vautour and Rachel (Robins) who looked after Avant Tout – tough days for them as well.

"There are peaks and troughs in all walks of life and the other day we were at the lower end of things. You have to try to appreciate the highs as best you can and deal with the lows."

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