Douvan set to make it lucky 13 For Willie Mullins at Punchestown

Thoroughbred primed for lucrative pre-Cheltenham festival workout in Tied Cottage Chase

Ruby Walsh guides  Douvan to steeplechase success at Leopardstown in December. Douvan is as short as 1-3 to lift steeplechasing’s two-mile crown next month. Photograph: Inpho

Ruby Walsh guides Douvan to steeplechase success at Leopardstown in December. Douvan is as short as 1-3 to lift steeplechasing’s two-mile crown next month. Photograph: Inpho

 

Douvan is set to continue his imperious progress towards Cheltenham’s Champion Chase when he lines up in Sunday’s Grade Two Punchestown feature where for many the only danger will be superstition rather than Smashing.  Smashing is a very talented horse and much the best of the trio prepared to line up against Willie Mullins’s superstar in the €45,000 Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase.

But since Douvan’s career to date has been glittering, and contains the giddy potential to reach even greater heights, perhaps only those prepared to believe there is something fateful in Sunday’s race being his 13th start for Mullins will treat it as anything else but a lucrative pre-festival workout.

Just once in his previous dozen starts for the champion trainer has Douvan not been odds-on and while Smashing’s presence on very soft ground means the favourite probably won’t be as short as the 1-14 he was for last season’s Irish Arkle, this is likely to prove an exercise in class rather than competition.

So it is testament to the hold this headline act exerts on the popular imagination that few are going to miss out on watching anyway.

With two such laps of honour already safely out of the way this season, Douvan is as short as 1-3 to lift steeplechasing’s two-mile crown next month.

And if that level of presumption is nothing compared to what some of us are already anticipating when he could be stretched out in trip next season, everything this horse has done has indicated he is a rare talent worthy of every type of steeplechase dream.

Unbeaten record

Ruby Walsh

The Walsh-Mullins team will also aim to strike in Saturday’s Fairyhouse highlight, the Grade Three Coolmore Solider Of Fortune Mares Novice Hurdle, where the champion jockey was also presented with a tricky pick.

That Walsh has opted for the Navan winner Pravalaguna rather than Asthuria, who he won on at track earlier in the winter, is a tip many will heed but ultimately both could wind up playing second fiddle to Forge Meadow.

Jessica Harrington’s runner won on heavy going on her jumping debut and didn’t enjoy much luck in running when behind Airlie Beach in the Grade One Royal Bond two months ago.

Mullins also has two in the Listed Bumper and on the heavy ground Miss Sapphire, a St Stephen’s Day winner at Limerick, can emerge best.

 In other news, the Turf Club has confirmed the appointment of Cliodhna Guy as a new full-time head of legal and compliance at the regulatory body.

”It’s a reflection of the increasingly legalistic aspect to the appeals & referrals system,” explained the Turf Club’s chief executive, Denis Egan.

 Paul Murtagh has also been made a new head of Raceday Operations at the Turf Club, a move intended to rationalise and focus integrity service resources at race meetings.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.