Douvan Could Yet Run At Cheltenham
Douvan will have a chance to prove his fitness ahead of Cheltenham this weekend, after being entered in Saturday's Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park where he'll be opposed by Irish Grand National winner Our Duke.
Douvan, a previous winner of the Supreme Novice Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy, been absent since losing his unbeaten record for trainer Willie Mullins in the Champion Chase at the Festival last year.
Champion trainer Mullins had ruled the seven-year-old, who was the ante-post favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, out of the rest of the season in December after he missed the Tingle Creek.
“I haven’t been happy with Douvan over the past few days.
“He appeared to have recovered from the problem that ruled him out of the Tingle Creek Chase but has been intermittently lame since we started doing more with him during the week.”
“I have spoken to his owner, Rich Ricci, and because of the calibre of horse Douvan is we’ve decided to take a conservative approach and consequently he won’t be running this season.”
Ruby Walsh celebrates winning The Ryanair Novice Steeplechase on Douvan INPHO/Morgan Treacy
But assistant handler Patrick Mullins gave an upbeat medical update on Douvan today after his entry was confirmed for Saturday's Grade Three contest.
"He'll have to work again later in the week, but he's not far away now.
"He is entered and he's been in good form, but we're just taking it day by day and stepping him up gradually, but it's so far so good.
"When the vets looked at him just after Christmas, they were surprised how well he was and they gave us the go-ahead to build him up gradually and so far there's been no problems."
The Jessica Harrington-trained Our Duke will be making a swift re-appearance after taking fourth place behind Edwulf in the Grade One Unibet Irish Gold Cup at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown earlier this month.