Friday 19 January 2018

Punchestown 2015: Chasing is on Douvan's horizon as he grabs the Herald in Mullins treble

Douvan, with Ruby Walsh up, on their way to winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
Douvan, with Ruby Walsh up, on their way to winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Douvan joined the elite roll of honour for the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle and instigated a Willie Mullins Grade One treble on the opening day of the Punchestown Fesitval.

Whether Douvan will follow the route of previous race winners Brave Inca, Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Faugheen and go down the Champion Hurdle route or go down the path of chasing like Moscow Flyer is a decision for Mullins and owner Rich Ricci to make over the summer months.

But either way, the French recruit looks like yet another very exciting prospect for the champion trainer. 

Chasing would look to be the preferred route, as Mullins said: “Douvan could be anything.

“He is way more efficient jumping than Faugheen ever was or is and from a novice that is extraordinary.

 “I can’t wait to get him over a fence, but we will have to talk to connections and see what we do. Rich [Ricci, owner] obviously has Faugheen for the Champion Hurdle and it is a nice problem to have.”

On what was a mixed day for punters, Douvan didn’t disappoint, especially for the man who had €100,000 cash on at 1/5 on course and Mullins predicts a big future. 

“I felt Douvan was as good today as he was at Cheltenham. Just watching him hurdling, at some of them he was barely coming off the ground. He just bent his legs and landed at the far side. Every time Ruby gave him a squeeze he picked up and went on about his business.

“I think Douvan is as good as we have ever had. Looking at him, he is not a Hurricane Fly type really. He is more of a Mikael D’Haguenet type and, although he didn’t go on over fences, that was for other reasons and I think Douvan will.

 “I’d imagine he’ll go chasing but seeing that performance makes you think he could stay hurdling.”

Mullins ran three in the BoyleSports Champion Chase and it was his apparent outsider of the three that stole the spoils as the Danny Mullins ridden Felix Yonger took a thrilling finish with Baily Green and the winning trainer was full of praise for the winning rider.

He said: “Danny is just riding fantastically at the moment. He has just returned from America where he rode for two days and had six winners and he gave that horse a really good ride, giving him a breather when it looked like they were going to get away from him.”

Reflecting on his other runners, he added: “Champagne Fever just slipped into the first fence and that was his race over then and Twinlight just missed a couple of fences.”

Ruby Walsh doubled his tally onboard the third of the Mullins winners as the RSA winner Don Poli disappointed and finished last of the five in the Growise Champion Novice Chase with Valseur Lido running out a 15/2 victor.

“I think Valseur Lido probably preferred that ground more than Don Poli. It could have  been a bit lively for him,” said Mullins. “I think Don Poli wants a longer trip and the Gold Cup is over a fair long trip.

“I always thought Valseur Lido was a fair horse.”

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