Betfred Racing News
Wednesday 7th September 2017

Mullins Hints At Early Return For Douvan

Willie Mullins feels Douvan is ‘back to his best’ and the Closutton supremo has hinted he may start his season earlier than normal.

© Caroline Norris

The Rich Ricci-owned seven-year-old was last spotted losing his unbeaten record in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Unbeaten in nine starts over fences, Douvan had gone off the long odds-on favourite for the two-mile Championship contest under Ruby Walsh but rarely seemed to be travelling with his usual panache in the race.

He finished down the field as the front-running Special Tiara for Noel Fehily and trainer Henry De Bromhead held off the late charge of Colin Tizzard’s Fox Norton to win.

Tests revealed that Douvan had suffered a stress fracture to his pelvis during the race. Having had time to recover, he is now back in at Mullins’ yard and preparing for the campaign ahead.

He returned last season in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork in December but Mullins is leaning towards an earlier kick-off this term.

Cheltenham’s Shloer Chase in November is one possible option for Douvan, who is showing Mullins all the right signs at home.

Mullins told the Irish Independent: “Douvan is in tip-top shape, I am delighted to say.

“The Hilly Way at Cork is a race we’ve had plenty of runners in but with it being in December we’d be inclined to look at an earlier race for his comeback run, potentially.”

Former winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, Douvan is 3/1 with Betfred to return to Prestbury Park in 2018 and win the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Nicky Henderson’s Arkle winner from March, Altior, is the 5/4 favourite for that race having compiled a perfect six-race unbeaten novice campaign over fences last term.