Douvan: clears a fence in spectacular style
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By Bruce Jackson 4:30PM 31 JAN 2017
WILLIE MULLINS is set to put the finishing touches to Douvan‘s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase preparations at Punchestown on Sunday.
Bookmakers believe the two-mile Cheltenham Festival feature is Douvan’s to lose as Ireland’s top-rated chaser is 4-9 favourite. Last Saturday’s Clarence House Chase winner Un De Sceaux is as big as 14-1 with Betfair, but is more likely to run in the Ryanair Chase according to connections.
Douvan has been priced up at 1-10 by Betfair for Sunday’s BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown as he bids to extend his winning sequence to 13 ahead of returning to Cheltenham, where he won the Racing Post Arkle last year and the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle the season before.
Willie Mullins said on Tuesday: “I have been happy with Douvan since Leopardstown and the Tied Cottage comes at a nice time for him.
“It’s a track that he has won at twice over hurdles and last season over fences as a novice so hopefully he runs well.”
Tied Cottage rivals
Douvan could face five rivals in the Tied Cottage. The colours of Alan and Ann Potts that were carried to victory by Sizing Europe in 2012 and 2013 are likely to be on show again with the Mouse Morris-trained Smashing, while Gordon Elliott has two possibles in the shape of Grade 1 winners Clarcam and Realt Mor.
Velvet Maker, who was second to Douvan on his penultimate start as a novice last season, and Draycott Place make up the field.
Un De Sceaux Ryanair-bound
Douvan is unlikely to face stablemate Un De Sceaux at Cheltenham as Patrick Mullins, who is assistant to his father Willie, said in a Racing Post podcast that the Ryanair Chase was the “logical option” for the Clarence House Chase winner.
He said: “On good ground in the Champion Chase last year he looked a little slow (when second to Sprinter Sacre).
“He looks to be a bit out of his comfort zone on good ground and his jumping seems to suffer so stepping up to the Ryanair seems to be the logical option.”
Mullins also suggested that stamina would not be an issue for Un De Sceaux, and that he may even stay three miles if asked.
“I think he would stay [three miles] if we could get him to settle better, and he is settling better. I think he’s the most exciting horse in racing to watch. He wears his heart on his sleeve. You saw the jump he made at the last on Saturday. He had so much left in the tank.”