Thursday 21 September 2017

Awesome Douvan to coast to another victory

Douvan will start long odds-on to make it 14 wins on the trot when he lines up under Ruby Walsh for tomorrow’s BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA
Douvan will start long odds-on to make it 14 wins on the trot when he lines up under Ruby Walsh for tomorrow’s BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA

Johnny Ward

Bookmakers will ask for around €140 from you just to give you the chance of winning a tenner when Douvan contests tomorrow's four-runner Grade Two BoyleSports Tied Cottage Steeplechase at Punchestown.

What can possibly go wrong? He could fall, of course - though there is hardly a better jumper around. The main point of interest here will be teasing Willie Mullins into a suggestion that the horse could step up in trip at Cheltenham's Festival, which seems highly unlikely.

Racing aficionados appreciate virtuosity and, while the bookmakers will offer somewhat token prices on what looks a formality, watching this horse go through the motions is a buzz in itself.

Those who want to make money will consider alternatives. The Listed INH Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle looks set to go to Mullins too with Cilaos Emery, which remains a live Cheltenham prospect, fancied to go in again.

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Tony Gavin
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Tony Gavin

This one is a nice advertisement for the sire Califet and he produced a striking performance in beating the useful Joey Sasa at Navan. He jumps well.

One could argue that Cilaos Emery was every bit as impressive as Melon was in winning his maiden, yet the Sky Bet Supreme Novice Hurdle market sees Melon as a clear favourite. Cilaos Emery is 8s with the sponsor.

The market will be lively in the Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle, which is run on the inside track, making it quite difficult for some horses to come from off the fractions. Paddy Power runner-up The Crafty Butcher looks on a competitive mark and is preferred to Exactoris.

Banks racing fans will be intrigued to see Colour Squadron take his chance in the PP Hogan Memorial Cross Country Steeplechase. Enda Bolger produced the horse to win a Kilfeacle point in January and Mark Walsh takes the steer now, though many eyes will be on fellow banks debutant First Lieutenant, little over a year after he was Lexus runner-up.

It is a weekend in which Gordon Elliott has little choice but to sit and suffer as Willie Mullins eats into his lead at the summit of the trainers' standings. A measure of compensation awaits the yard in the Michael Fitzpatrick Memorial Beginners Chase, Be The Hero a likely sort under Jack Kennedy. The distance may stretch Velocity Boy.

The slog that is the Racinguk.com/freetrial Grand National Trial Handicap Steeplechase is not certain to suit My Hometown, since he won a maiden hurdle two seasons ago over two miles.

However, he was running a big race until a horrible blunder at this venue on latest and he is potentially well-handicapped under the in-form Mark Enright. Presumably, the weight was too low for Mark Walsh.

Clitandre looks the right sort on paper in the Goffs Punchestown Festival Invitational Sale (Pro/Am) Flat Race. The French-bred, second in a Kirkistown maiden for four-year-olds almost a year ago, joined the Mullins barn.

Irish Independent

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