Ryanair Novice Chase
Grade 1, Punchestown 18:40
€115,000 added,
5yo plus,
2m, Class 1  
Thursday 28th April 2016

Free Racing Tips

1 Douvan 2-9F
2 The Game Changer 9/1
3 Sizing John 8/1
NR: Mr Picotee (IRE)
5 ran Distances: 11l, 11l, 13l
TIME 4m 17.90s (slow by 19.90s)

Imperious Douvan makes all in the Ryanair Novice Chase

© Caroline Norris

The brilliant Douvan put in a superb display to justify 2/9 favouritism when winning easily by 11 lengths under Ruby Walsh. The six-year-old was completing a rare Cheltenham/Aintree/Punchestown three-timer and trainer Willie Mullins is already looking forward to next season.

“We’ve seen a few not able to do the three Festivals this week so that was great,” said Mullins. “He got close at one or two but he jumped fantastically and did it like a fresh horse. You wouldn’t have known he’d been to Cheltenham and Aintree, It was as good a performance as we could have possibly hoped after that heavy schedule.

“He’s an incredible horse and what you saw there we are lucky enough to see every morning at home. My immediate thoughts for next year are that we might take on Sprinter Sacre and go the Champion Chase route. But equally we could make a Gold Cup horse out of him. He travels and has the temperament that you need to be a stayer. But he’ll go out to grass now and I’ll chat over with Mr Ricci over the summer. He’s a big, immature horse with a big frame and could get stronger over the summer. He’s six and could improve again. I just hope he stays sound so everybody can get to enjoy him.”

Free Racing Tips

Walsh added: “Gail (Carlisle) does a great job with him. She rides him out every day, looks after him, minds him and knows exactly how much work to do. She has had him spot on every time. There was a fair headwind and he was idling in front, so I was waiting for the others behind me just to keep him competitive. Willie doesn’t talk things up unnecessarily and he has always talked this horse up since very early on. Gail went up the gallop on him one morning and said this horse is better than Mikael D’Haguenet.

“He has loads of speed and is a great ride. He is very accurate jumper – at the last fence you wouldn’t even notice him getting off the ground. I suppose like other good two-milers I have ridden, he doesn’t arch his back – his front end lifts and his back-end stays very level. He is a dream to ride and a wonderful horse. I am sure he is a pleasure to own.”

Rich Ricci commented: “Douvan is something else. I haven’t watched the whole race – I only saw the last two fences – but he seemed to be travelling well from what I was listening to and it was never in doubt.

“I told Patrick Mullins that I was worried he was acting up a bit in the parade ring but he said just sit back and enjoy – he is in great nick. He proved he was and is so effortless – he doesn’t arch his back at his fences and gets away from them so quickly. He really is something else.

“It will be interesting to see what happens next year. He has earned his summer off, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t mind stepping up in trip and seeing what he can do. Like all of ours, he will have plenty of options which I know will frustrate people but we will share our thinking as we go along. I think he is a horse you would probably want to try and step up in trip. He is obviously quick enough for two miles but is so big and effortless. He hasn’t stopped yet and doesn’t look like he is going to so maybe he could step up to two and a half and we will see how he gets on. He could be a King George horse, he could be anything. We will just have to see.

“It is a fantastic training performance by Willie and he is some horse. Not many have won at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown. They are all hard races, no matter how easy they look. It was a great performance by Willie, Gail and everyone in the yard. He is a pleasure to own, he is such a lovely, lovely horse.

“I was worried when he played up in the parade ring. Jackie Mullins couldn’t watch and went back to the car! I was worried – he is on his toes sometimes but I have never seen him like that. When Ruby got on his back, he calmed down which gave me some relief. I don’t know what it was about but anyway he was brilliant.

“He has earned his summer break – hopefully, we will get a summer!”


Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1)
€115,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m, Class 1
5 ran
Going: Yielding

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Douvan (FR) 2/9f R Walsh
W P Mullins 6
2nd 11 The Game Changer (IRE) 9/1 B J Cooper
G Elliott 7
3rd 11 Sizing John 8/1 B J Geraghty
H de Bromhead 6
4th 13 Baltimore Rock (IRE) 20/1 N D Fehily
N P Mulholland 7
5th 32 Ttebbob (IRE) 9/1 R M Power
Mrs J Harrington 7
NR Mr Picotee (IRE) 150/1 A E Lynch
V Halley 7

Year Horse Age/Wt Owner Trainer Jockey SP

2015 Un De Sceaux 7-11-10 Edward O’Connell Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh 1/10 Fav
2014 God’s Own 6-11-10 Crossed Fingers P’ship Tom George GB Barry Geraghty 25/1
2013 Arvika Ligeionniere 8-11-10 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh 7/2 Fav
2012 Lucky William 8-11-10 Garden Kingdom Synd. Tom Cooper Barry Geraghty 4/1
2011 Captain Chris 7-11-12 Diana Whateley Philip Hobbs GB Richard Johnson 4/6 Fav
2010 Captain Cee Bee 9-11-12 J P McManus Eddie Harty A P McCoy 4/1
2009 Barker 8-11-12 E Duignan Willie Mullins David Casey 11/2
2008 Big Zeb 7-11-12 Patrick Redmond Colm Murphy Barry Geraghty 4/1
2007 Another Promise 8-11-12 Geoff Hubbard Racing Ferdy Murphy GB Graham Lee 5/1
2006 Accordion Etoile 7-11-12 Banjo Syndicate Paul Nolan John Cullen 9/4
2005 War Of Attrition 6-11-12 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris Conor O’Dwyer 3/1
2004 Say Again 8-11-12 Sean Duggan Paul Nolan John Cullen 6/1
2003 Le Roi Miguel 5-11-05 Judy Stewart Paul Nicholls GB Ruby Walsh 8/11 Fav
2002 Moscow Flyer 8-11-12 Brian Kearney Jessica Harrington Barry Geraghty 2/5 Fav
*2001 Alcapone 7-11-12 Castleblake Racing Synd. Mouse Morris David Casey 10/1
2000 Tiutchev 7-11-09 Liars Poker Partnership Nicky Henderson GB Mick Fitzgerald 9/10 Fav
1999 Sydney Twothousand 9-11-05 Mrs Michael Watt Noel Meade Norman Williamson 11/2
1998 Direct Route 7-11-09 Michael Thompson Howard Johnson GB Paul Carberry 11/10 Fav
1997 Jeffell 7-12-00 Thomas Bailey Arthur Moore Francis Woods 11/8 Fav
1996 Ventana Canyon 7-12-00 Philip Myerscough Edward O’Grady Richard Dunwoody 5/4 Fav
1995 Strong Platinum 7-12-00 Theresa McCoubrey Paddy Burke Conor O’Dwyer 7/4
1994 Oh So Grumpy 6-11-08 Mrs E Queally Jessica Harrington Jamie Osborne 20/1
1993 Viking Flagship 6-12-00 Roach Foods Ltd David Nicholson GB Richard Dunwoody 4/1
1992 Classical Charm 9-11-08 Al O’Connell Al O’Connell Ken Morgan 8/1

Free Racing Tips