Douvan set for Cheltenham warm up at Punchestown on Sunday

Bookmakers now make Gordon Elliott favourite to claim champion trainer title

Douvan: Willie Mullins confirmed his unbeaten charge will line up in the Grade Two Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Douvan: Willie Mullins confirmed his unbeaten charge will line up in the Grade Two Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The series of home-front reverses endured by Willie Mullins last week has seen his rival Gordon Elliott made favourite again for the trainers’ championship although Douvan is set to try and restore normal service at Punchestown this Sunday.

Mullins has confirmed Douvan will have his Cheltenham festival pipe-opener in the Grade Two Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase for which the horse, now unbeaten in eight starts over fences, is sure to start at long odds-on.

That will be good news for the champion trainer who last week had to rule out the outstanding mare Annie Power from Cheltenham due to injury and then had to withdraw Faugheen a day before Sunday’s Irish Champion Hurdle due to a pulled muscle.

Mullins has indicated Faugheen will go straight to Cheltenham to try and regain the Champion Hurdle crown and said after the horse was examined on Monday: “Faugheen is making good progress while Douvan goes to Punchestown on Sunday”.

With a setback ruling Min out of Sunday’s other Grade One, the Arkle Trophy, and Royal Caviar appearing to throw away victory by falling at the last, it was a mixed few days for Mullins who did have the consolation of watching Un De Sceaux score a top-flight victory at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Slight favourite

“Willie wasn’t able to land either the Irish Champion Hurdle or Irish Arkle, despite having two runners in each heat, including the second favourite and favourite in the respective races,” a Paddy Power spokesman. “With Gordon about €250,000 ahead, we make him slight favourite to claim the crown.”

Elliott is 4-5 with Mullins at 10-11 to claim a tenth trainers’ title in a row.

Down Royal’s Tuesday card has nine declarations from Elliott who is closing in on €3 million in prizemoney for the Irish season to date and both Holeinthewall Bar and Castlehume can score for him in the north.

Ruby Walsh goes to Down Royal solely to ride Aretesone in a novice hurdle for which Elliott has declared Cadeau Du Bresil and top cross-channel based jockey Daryl Jacob.

The in-form Henry De Bromhead can make long journey north from his Tramore base pay off with both Monbeg Chit Chat and Trainwreck in the bumper.

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