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2016 Cheltenham Festival: Arkle trends a positive for Douvan

David Metcalf | February 4, 2016

Douvan is odds-on at 1/2 with Coral to provide champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins with back-to-back success in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, and the stats suggest he is worthy favourite to land the Grade 1 contest run over 2m on Tuesday, March 15th.

Mullins saddled Un De Sceaux to victory 12 months ago, and in Douvan has a gelding who is one of the most exciting prospects seen for many a year.

Horse Racing - 2015 Cheltenham Festival - Champion Day - Cheltenham Racecourse

The French recruit won all four of his starts last season after joining the County Carlow handler, and they included breathtaking successes in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival and the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

Turn of foot a potent weapon

Douvan looked a real monster in both, travelling powerfully throughout and showing a devastating turn of foot when asked to go about his business.

To me, he had the potential to make up into a Champion Hurdle contender, but connections have the reigning champ for that in the shape of Faugheen and decided to go down the chasing route this season.

Douvan was sent off 2-11 favourite for his eagerly-awaited comeback and debut over the larger obstacles, and after being sent straight into the lead by jockey Ruby Walsh jumped with superb accuracy and speed throughout before easing clear between the final two fences to score on the bridle by 9 1/2 lengths.

Douvan

It was a performance which oozed class, and the six-year-old has since gone on to land the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown and the and Grade 1 Irish Arkle at the same venue in facile fashion to officially be rated 160.

Ideal assets for an Arkle contender

Douvan is a fast and accurate jumper, has a huge engine and potent turn of foot.

Those are the ideal assets needed for the Arkle, and as far as the trends are concerned he also ticks the following boxes:

  • French bred horses have won 10 of the last 20 runnings
  • 14 out of the last 16 winners had a rating of 142 and over and five of these were the highest rated chaser in the race
  • 27 of the last 27 winners finished either first or second in the last race before the festival
  • Nine out of the last 13 winners had either won or been placed at the Cheltenham Festival before
  • Only five favourites in the last 24 runnings of the Arkle have won the race, but three of those successes have come in the last four runnings with Sprinter Sacre (2012), Simonsig (2013) and Un De Sceaux (2015) all triumphing at odds-on
  • Key trials include the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park, the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown and the Irish Arkle
  • Six-year-old’s have won four of the last 13 running, including three of the last four renewals
  • Taking everything into account, it’s impossible to pick any holes in Douvan’s profile and granted a clear round he looks the one they all have to beat in the Arkle.

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