Douvan produced a scintillating display to win the Arkle in March
PICTURE: Getty Images
By Alex Wiltshire 7:30PM 30 OCT 2016
WILLIE MULLINS has a puzzling conundrum ahead of him. Yet it is a dilemma that makes him the envy of the National Hunt training ranks due to the abundant source of equine riches at his disposal. And in Douvan, he has a versatile talent with which to plot a route to Cheltenham glory in March.
The six-year-old was a majestic winner of the Arkle at this year’s Festival, jumping with poise and panache before powering clear of his lagging rivals up the Cheltenham hill. A once in a lifetime stable star for most.
However, with Douvan’s flying graduation into open company, Mullins is posed with the challenge of also devising campaigns for 2015 Arkle winner Un De Sceaux, Ryanair champion Vautour and the adaptable Vroum Vroum Mag.
“He has loads of pace, relaxes and stays well, so will have plenty of options,” said Mullins.
“At the start of last season we were hoping he might make as big an impact as a novice chaser as he did as a novice hurdler and he certainly didn’t disappoint, winning all his six races, five of them Grade 1s, and all by wide margins.
“He’s really exciting and we’re looking forward to another good campaign,” he added.
Starting at two miles
With such strength and depth in the ranks, Mullins can afford to be patient in assessing his seven-time Grade 1 winner, but the intention is to begin over the minimum distance where he proved infallible throughout last season.
“We’ll probably start him off over two miles but he could step up in trip. We’ve yet to decide where he’ll have his first run,” Mullins said.
“The Champion Chase would look an obvious race for him, but it’s too early to be making any commitments.”
Read more on plans for Willie Mullins’ stars in Monday’s Racing Post – also available on iPad from 8pm