Frank Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase
|Grade 1, Leopardstown 13:55
Race Value: €90,000
2m 1f, Class 1
|Sunday 24th January 2016|
1 Douvan 1/14F
2 Velvet Maker 16/1
3 Domesday Book 14/1
3 ran Distances: 15l, 13l
TIME 4m 17.90s (slow by 11.90s)
Douvan's official winning margin was 15 lengths as he trounced Velvet Maker and recorded his 8th straight win
Douvan took his unbeaten record over fences to three with an impressive display at Leopardstown.
Ruby Walsh dictated affairs from the start and the Willie Mullins-trained Douvan proved a willing partner, putting in a superb round of jumping.
Sent off at the highly-prohibitive odds of 1-14, last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero ran his two rivals ragged and put their jumping under pressure from an early stage.
Douvan surged effortlessly clear to win as he pleased by 15 lengths from Velvet Maker. Doomsday Book was another 13 lengths away last of the trio.
Walsh said: "He's a bit flat over his fences and doesn't arch his back. Master Minded used to do that, too - flat but effective over his fences. Not arching his back means he's fast away and that's a huge plus for a two-miler chaser.
"It's dead against what show jumpers are meant to do, but it's perfect for a two-miler chaser."
He added: "He's a simple horse to ride - he jumps out, watches where he's going and it's all very easy. What I really liked about him was it took a long time to pull him up. The ones that gallop thorough the line and around the bend - that's when you know there's something there.
"He's got the potential - Kauto Star had it as a novice, Vautour had it as a novice and this lad has it too, but until they go and do it in open company, you never know for sure. But Douvan certainly has the potential."
Mullins said: "I thought he jumped fantastic, maybe there was one fence down the back he stood a bit far off it. I was very impressed with the way he jumped into the bridle after the last and lengthened his stride.
"He hurdles his fences, really, and they are no effort to him. For his size he knows where his feet are. He's not awkward.
"His temperament is half the battle with him. He's so docile which means you can put him anywhere in a race when the time comes. He doesn't have to make the running."
He went on: "You are seeing now what he shows me every day at home. It's as if he's just a different species. The way he jumps I don't think we need to go beyond two miles at the moment, but we have never had any worry about his ability to stay.
"We don't know how good he his. He could be anything. He could go back over hurdles and run in a Champion Hurdle."
Owner Rich Ricci said: "I think he will improve for that run and with another summer on his back he could be anything.
"He looks to be the horse with the most potential we've ever had. He does things so effortlessly and has a great demeanour.
"He's something else now. It's great to see that and we're very lucky to have him.
"I can't wait for Cheltenham now. It's the Arkle, still. I'm sure even the opposition from Willie's yard as well as from England will all show up and want to take us on and try to do it to us.
"We'll have to see, but he just seems to have the right profile and I'm very hopeful he'll get there and put his best foot forward.
"I don't think he needs to lead. He's got a good turn of foot and has got unbelievable ability. I think he can win from anywhere."
The Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Steeplechase
(Grade 1) 2m 1f, Race Value: €90,000
Going: Soft, Soft to Heavy in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Douvan (FR) 1/14f||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||6|
|2nd||15||Velvet Maker (FR) 16/1||A P Heskin
|3rd||13||Domesday Book (USA) 14/1||A E Lynch
|H de Bromhead||6|