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.
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.
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:
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.