Leopardstown preview: Racing Post Novice Chase (14.55)
David Metcalf | December 23, 2015
Douvan was ultra impressive when making a winning debut over fences, so can cement his position as favourite for the 2016 Arkle with victory in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase (14.55) at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
The French recruit won all four of his starts last season after joining trainer Willie Mullins, and they included breathtaking successes in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival and the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
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.
Will deadly Douvan prove a worthy front-runner?
Douvan was sent off odds-on 2/11 favourite for his eagerly-awaited comeback and debut over the larger obstacles, and his legion of fans never had an anxious moment.
After being sent straight into the lead by jockey Ruby Walsh, the five-year-old jumped with superb accuracy and speed throughout before easing clear between the final two fences and scoring on the bridle by 9 1/2 lengths.
It was a performance which oozed class and Douvan is currently Coral’s 6/4 favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival next March on the back of it.
This race will tell us is Douvan is worthy to be such a short price at this stage but – granted a clear round – it’s hard to see him getting beat.
Punters may be Sizing John instead
Sizing John looks the one most likely to take advantage if Douvan fails to live up to expectations.
The Henry de Bromhead trained gelding was a smart hurdler who twice chased home Douvan last season and also finished a highly creditable third to him in the Supreme.
Connections always believed that the five-year-old’s future would lie over fences, and Sizing John has been very impressive in winning both his starts over the larger obstacles.
Those victories have come over course and distance here at Leopardstown, and on each occasion Sizing John has jumped impeccably at the head of affairs and stayed on strongly to score with plenty in hand.
The son of Midnight Legend is clearly a very exciting prospect, and his attacking tactics and slick fencing technique will ensure that Douvan’s jumping is put to the test.
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Coral’s top tip: Douvan is one of the most exciting horses in training, so looks a worthy odds-on favourite to land the spoils. Sizing john rates the biggest danger.