Racing Post Novice Chase
Grade 1, Leopardstown 14:55
€75,000 added,
4yo plus,
2m 1f, Class 1  
Saturday 26th December 2015

1 Douvan 4/7F
2 Sizing John 5/1
3 Velvet Maker 16/1
4 ran Distances: 18l, 46l
TIME 4m 29.10s (slow by 23.10s)

'Magnificent' Douvan thrills Mullins at Leopardstown

© Caroline Norris

Only four went to post for the Grade One feature, and while all were of significant ability the Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner oozed class in making it two from two over the larger obstacles.

Willie Mullins' five-year-old was expected to have a fight on his hands for the lead with Jessica Harrington's Ttebbob, but Douvan's jumping immediately put that rival under pressure and he was eventually pulled up.

Sizing John closed after Douvan made a semblance of a mistake at the second-last, but Mullins knew what he had underneath him.

Without asking for an effort Douvan began to pull away again and while he was not fluent at the last, he never looked like falling and the 4-7 favourite coasted home, nearly eased to a walk at the line in winning by 18 lengths.

Paul Townend was supposed to take the mount on the Rich Ricci-owned victor, but after returning from injury after a spell out, he had a fall in the first race and stood himself down.

Former jockey David Casey, representing Mullins, said: "Everything comes easy to him, and it was an easy decision to go over fences with his size. He's built for fences and oozes class.

"It's about keeping the wheels on the bus now. He's a special horse."

Patrick Mullins, winning his first Grade One over hurdles or fences, said: "That's one of the best thrills that I've ever had. He was magnificent.

"He was clever at the last and put in a short one, whereas at Navan he went long at the last. He was just idling in front. He covers so much ground that you don't think you are going that quick. He's like a Ferrari!"

William Hill made Douvan the even-money favourite for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March, with RaceBets 10-11 from 6-4.

Free Racing Tips

The Racing Post Novice Steeplechase
2m 1f, Race Value: €85,000, Grade 1
4 ran
Going: Soft

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Douvan (FR) 4/7f Mr P W Mullins
W P Mullins 5
2nd 18 Sizing John 5/1 J J Burke
H de Bromhead 5
3rd 46 Velvet Maker (FR) 16/1 A P Heskin
A Fleming 6
PU Ttebbob (IRE) 3/1 R M Power
Mrs J Harrington 6