Killultagh Vic set for Leopardstown Christmas return after long absence

Forgotten horse Killultagh Vic – a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and whose exciting novice chase season was curtailed by injury – is ready to rumble at Leopardstown next week following an absence of almost two years.

The eight-year-old, who was favourite for the 2016 JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham before suffering an injury, is among the acceptors for the two Grade 1s at Leopardstown on Thursday – the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle and the Leopardstown Christmas Chase.

His trainer Willie Mullins said on Wednesday: “We haven’t decided yet which race Killultagh Vic will run in at Leopardstown but he’s well and ready to start back next week.”

Out of sight, out of mind is a phrase that springs to mind when looking for Cheltenham Festival ante-post quotes about Killultagh Vic, with few firms offering any prices, though he can be backed for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, at 66-1, Ryanair Chase (20-1) and Stayers' Hurdle (25-1). 

Killultagh Vic, who won the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival before beating Thistlecrack by half a length in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Punchestown a month later, is two from two over fences.

He last ran in January 2016 when he and Ruby Walsh made a sensational recovery from a last-fence blunder to win a Grade 2 novice chase at Leopardstown before being sidelined with a suspensory injury and a pelvic injury.

Regardless of which race Killultagh Vic contests, Djakadam is likely to join Yorkhill in the line-up for the Leopardstown Christmas Chase – formerly the Lexus – for which 22 horses remain after Wednesday’s forfeit stage.

Djakadam finished third in the race a year ago and has been taken out of the 32Red King George VI Chase by Mullins. His stablemate Yorkhill had been favourite for the Leopardstown Christmas Chase in early betting but has been usurped by Gold Cup hero Sizing John – he was a best-priced 9-4 on Wednesday evening.

Gigginstown House Stud have 12 of the 22 left in the race, including 2016 winner Outlander.

Faugheen will face a maximum of five rivals – and probably fewer – in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown a week on Friday.

His trainer Mullins said: "It's still the plan to run Faugheen in the Ryanair, and Cilaos Emery is also likely to run in the same race."

Also remaining in the contest are the Gordon Elliott-trained trio Campeador, Mick Jazz and The Game Changer, and the Dan Skelton-trained Ch'Tibello, who was beaten three lengths when fourth behind My Tent Or Yours in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last Saturday.

The ground at Leopardstown was changed from 'yielding' to 'yielding, good in places' on Wednesday afternoon. The forecast is for mainly dry and mild weather over the next few days.