Punchestown Festival: All eyes on Douvan the destroyer
David Metcalf | April 27, 2016
Douvan can dazzle again in Ryanair Novice Chase
Douvan is one of the most exciting prospects seen for a long time and can round-off fabulous season with victory in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase on day three of the Punchestown Festival (18:40).
The gelding won all four of his starts last season after joining trainer Willie Mullins, and they included a breathtaking success in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Douvan then had his attention switched to chasing at the start of this campaign, and has won all five of his starts over the larger obstacles.
After landing a minor beginners chase contest at Navan on his seasonal reappearance, this six-year-old went on land Grade 1 races the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leoparstown and the Irish Arkle at the same venue in facile fashion.
Douvan then put in another awesome display at the Cheltenham Festival when romping to a seven length success in the Grade 1 Arkle Challenge Trophy.
Awesome in the Arkle and at Aintree
The son of Walk In The Park jumped and travelled well throughout and won with more in hand than the winning margin suggests.
Douvan backed that up with a stunning success in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices Chase at Aintree, cruising home by 14 lengths from The Game Changer in a race run in a very fast time.
An official rating of 169 gives Douvan 18lb and upwards in hand on his rivals; so, granted a clear round, this looks his for the taking.
The only worry is that the race may be one too many, as has proved the case already this week with stable companions Vautour and Yorkhill running below par and getting turned over when sent off odds-on favourites at this year’s Punchestown Festival.
However, Douvan has so much in hand on ratings that he could in theory under-perform significantly and still be good enough to land the spoils.
The Game Changer the forecast choice
It looks to be a case of who will make the forecast spot, and The Game Changer looks the most likely candidate.
Although no match for Douvan at Aintree, the Gordon Elliott trained seven-year-old stuck to the task well and pulled 18 lengths clear of the third home Fox Norton who has since come out and won to give the form a solid look.
The Game Changer also comes into the race a relatively fresh horse having had just two starts after a 152 day break, and is a consistent sort who always gives it his best shot.
Any rain would hinder the son of Arcadio’s chances but, if the ground stays in his favour, a big run looks on the cards.
There’s more Punchestown Festival race previews on our dedicated page.
Coral’s top tip: Douvan is in a different league to his rivals and impossible to oppose. The Game Changer can fill the forecast spot.