Douvan delivers Arkle Trophy glory for Willie Mullins
Published 15/03/2016 | 18:26
Douvan made virtually all the running as he justified the status of a first-day banker with an effortless victory in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham.
Vaniteux tried to put it up to the Willie Mullins hotpot at the second-last but made a bad mistake, giving Nico de Boinville no chance of staying in the saddle, while Baltimore Rock came down independently at the same fence when at the rear.
Ruby Walsh had barely moved a muscle on Douvan and the 1-4 shot, owned by Rich Ricci, bounded clear of the opposition to give connections quick compensation for the defeat of Min in the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
The always-prominent Sizing John (9-1) was second, seven lengths adrift.
Ricci said: "He's just very good isn't he, he's very, very exciting. It's effortless, isn't it - he's got everything. He's certainly the best we've had."
Walsh said: "He was very good, very assured in his jumping. He only did what he had to do, really. He's very, very good in front. He jumped super and travelled really well.
"Willie is not a boisterous person, but he's never hidden the regard he holds this horse. He's an incredible horse."
Mullins said: "It's fantastic to get on the board. Hopefully he just keeps winning. He stays and settles. He did that little thing at the last, but it didn't seem to bother him. We think he could be anything."
Mullins hopes Douvan could end up competing at the very highest level in jumps racing, with distance options open.
He said: "We think he could be a Champion Chase horse or he could be a Gold Cup horse - we just don't know.
"I thought they were going too slow, but that was fine as he has got plenty of speed and I thought he had Vaniteux beaten a long way out.
"He can't do much more than that, but I don't think we'll be resting him. I've not got a clue where we go next, but usually we go back to Punchestown instead of Aintree."
Henry de Bromhead said of Sizing John: "He travelled over to England really well, which was important, so we might think about Aintree and Punchestown."