Punchestown Festival preview: Champion Novice Hurdle (16.20)
Douvan put in a devastating performance when winning at the Cheltenham Festival, and looks a worthy long odds-on favourite to follow-up in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown today (16.20).
The five-year-old was was an expensive French purchase who looked the real deal when bolting up on his debut for trainer Willie Mullins at Gowran Park.
Douvan hammered Sizing John by 12 lengths, and the runner-up went on to land a Grade 1 contest to give the form a very solid look.
The son of Walk In The Park followed-up when winning a Grade 2 contest at Punchestown hard held by 3 3/4 lengths from Alpha Des Obeaux, before putting in a stunning display in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Douvan, who is owned by Rich and Susannah Ricci, travelled like a dream in midfield before making smooth headway three from home to take up the running at the last.
The gelding then stormed clear up the hill to beat stablemate Shaneshill with far more in hand than the winning margin of 4 1/2 lengths suggests.
The runner-up has since come out and registered a facile success in a Grade 2 contest at Fairyhouse, and Douvan finished seven lengths in front of the third home Sizing John who reopposes today.
Judged on that running, and his victory over Sizing John earlier in the season, Douvan has absolutely nothing to fear from Henry de Bromhead’s charge and barring accidents this looks his for the taking.
Sizing John is the obvious one to chase Douvan home, and represents a yard in fine form at present.
The five-year-old is progressing with each run, but doesn’t have the same change of gears possessed by Douvan and if officially rated 9lb lower than the selection.
Of the others, Blair Perrone and Rich Coast are both useful types but have a mountain to climb on official ratings to make any sort of an impact in this Grade 1 contest on all known form.