herald

Thursday 23 February 2017

Douvan is out on his own over two miles

Douvan is a phenomenal horse
Douvan is a phenomenal horse

A lot of people with a trainers licence and in racecourse management were very happy to see rainfall this week but now that the rain has finally returned, we are in for a mega weekend with Douvan set to be the star of the show.

Some people like racing for the thrills and spills, others like to try and make a few quid by having a bet and then there are people that just like horses but no matter what bracket you come under, you don't want to miss Douvan. He is an aeroplane.

It's going to be an action-packed weekend with Grade One racing on in Punchestown and as I sit down to write this I don't know where Ruby is going to be on Sunday and I'm not sure he does either.

With Punchestown's John Durkan being a Grade One and Djakadam looking to have a real solid chance in that and the Hilly Way Chase featuring Douvan who is just a phenomenal beast, it's a tricky one to call, but I do know he can't be in both places and Paul Townend will certainly be looking forward to going racing on Sunday wherever that may be.

Long-term plans for Douvan obviously won't be decided until after Sunday but he is in a number of different races over Christmas, including the King George at Kempton, but I can't see any horse coming near him over two-miles this season.

Douvan has run 10-times for Willie, and over fences he has won by 9, 18, 15, 7, 14 and 11 lengths and the last five of those were in Grade One's.

There wasn't a novice around last season that could cope with him and I don't think there are two many older horses that would be able to either. He is a great draw for Cork and I hope they turn up to see him and that Douvan attracts the crowd he deserves.

Hopefully there'll be a good crowd at Punchestown as well and I think the John Durkan will be a cracking race, possibly one the races of the weekend in terms of excitement.

Progressive

Djakadam is a genuine Grade One performer at this level and won this very race easily last season but both Sub Lieutenant and Outlander are progressive, talented second season novices and won't be any pushover.

Both of those two have had two runs so far this season, Sub Lieutenant winning both, beating Outlander in Down Royal, and he then looked like he was going to win the Clonmel Oil so they've fair form and as we saw with Apple's Jade and Vroum Vroum Mag last weekend, the benefit of a run can make a huge difference.

Looking back on Fairyhouse and it was a great day of racing last Sunday and I think there will be plenty to take out from the day. I would have been one person who would have never dreamt of running Apple's Jade in the Hatton's Grace against Vroum Vroum Mag just a week after finishing second in the Fighting Fifth but fair play to Gordon Elliott who made a big but correct decision.

As he said himself, he would have been under no pressure from Michael or Eddie O'Leary but he would have had to deal with a lot of talk from outsiders if it had went wrong.

That's probably not something Gordon worries too much about, but even still, it couldn't have been an easy decision and fair play to him.

The one horse I'd really be taking out of last weekend is Coney Island. We had good racing but I think this years Drinmore could prove to be a fantastic renewal.

Alpha Des Obeaux took them along lovely in front but Coney Island just travelled with ease and jumped beautifully in behind.

He absolutely loved every minute of it and Mark Walsh gave him a super ride.

Mark is riding out of his skin at the moment and is full of confidence and there are few better around at the moment.

Clondaw Warrior was impressive at Clonmel yesterday and has been a great servant for my sister-in-law Gillian and her friends. He's brought them a load of places and who knows where he'll go next. I don't know if he could win a Grade One but he could certainly be competitive and their fun with him isn't over yet hopefully.

You don't want to miss Douvan. He is an aeroplane . . . who is just a phenomenal beast.

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