Willie Mullins plotting victory for Douvan at Punchestown

Mullins is hoping that Douvan can follow a similar route to Vautour


Champion trainer Willie Mullins is plotting a familiar path for Rich Ricci's latest leading novice hurdler by heading to Punchestown tomorrow with Douvan for the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.

Mullins and Ricci teamed up to win the Grade Two contest with Mikael D'Haguenet back in 2009 on his way to winning at the Cheltenham Festival but more recently it was where Vautour warmed up for a Grade One hat-trick at the business end of last season.


Vautour was more workmanlike than expected in this race a year ago but as it transpired the runner-up, Western Boy, proved to be a better horse than he probably got credit for on that occasion.

Vautour then went on to win the Deloitte at Leopardstown, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Tattersalls Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

Like Vautour last year, Douvan is probably going to take on some nice novices but the French-bred five-year-old looks to be a cut above the rest.

Douvan made his debut at Gowran Park with a lot of people already talking about how good he could be and you couldn't but be impressed by the manner of his 12-length triumph over Sizing John.

For those who wanted even more proof of how good Douvan was on debut, Sizing John turned up in the Grade One Future Champions Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas and absolutely bolted up for Henry de Bromhead.

Mullins claimed his 100th Grade One in Ireland last Sunday with McKinley beating his more fancied stable companion Tell Us More and the champion trainer has an abundance of novice hurdle talent on his hands but Douvan - after just one start in Ireland - is already disputing favouritism for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and tomorrow's Punchestown assignment is likely to see his credentials enhanced.