Douvan 'could be best yet' but O'Brien is wary of hype
Paul Townend says Douvan is potentially one of the best ever - but the handicapper wants to see him in hotter company before buying into the hype.
Susannah Ricci's charge is already not far off what the great Moscow Flyer reached at the peak of his powers, according to senior jumps handicapper Noel O'Brien, reacting to the unbeaten chaser making an impressive start as a senior at Cork.
He said: "I'd probably go 175 for his rating now, 5lb below Moscow Flyer at his best, which took in handicap form. It's if and when he meets Un De Sceaux or the like that we can really get performance to match hype."
In a Twitter poll after his win on Sunday, 44pc of voters said they believed Douvan would not stay well enough to win a Gold Cup, a race not on the agenda this season. He is as short as 4/9 for the Champion Chase and Paul Townend, who rode at Cork, sees no flaws, despite a scare three out.
"The mistake people saw did not feel half as bad as it looked on TV. I never felt at any point he'd topple and he'd been in front for a while. He winged the one before it and pinged the one after.
"He was probably going too well. He is so big, covers so much ground and does everything so easily, it never feels like hard work: it felt like a half-speed. Crossing the line, it was just coasting. I was never any way serious.
"He's a huge beast, so much ability underneath you. He was a little lit up but it's first run back. I wasn't going to upset him."
Asked was he the best he'd ridden, Townend said: "Potentially yes. It's hard to compare him to those little hurdling types in Quevega and Hurricane Fly, as he's so big. He's huge potential. Who knows how far he could get trip-wise? I've never gotten anywhere near the bottom of him.
"He has the wow factor. The buzz of having that underneath you, the strength and the power under you, he's the horse everyone wants to ride.
"When I said I was doing a half-speed, I couldn't believe how much pressure everything else in the race was under.
"And he is such a kind horse, a pleasure to do anything on, I'd say he doesn't know himself how good he is. Potentially he is one of the true greats."
Meanwhile, the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), Brian Kavanagh, has reacted to plans to ensure that sporting bodies' boards are at least 30pc made up of women.
Such organisations will lose thousands of euro in State funding unless at least that quota of their board positions are filled by women, the Irish Independent revealed on Monday. HRI's board has 14 members, including Eimear Mulhern, Meta Osborne and Elizabeth Headon.
"We are at 21pc," Kavanagh said, "and advise all of bodies who nominate members to our board to be aware of need for gender balance when doing so."
A hole in his weight cloth cost Brian Hughes another winner as he was disqualified for weighing in light at Catterick yesterday. The Peter Niven-trained Brian Boranha won the staying handicap hurdle but came back in with 2lb less lead in his saddle than when weighing out, the lead falling out of a hole in the bottom of the weight cloth.
British champion Jim Crowley returns to the saddle today with seven all-weather rides at Lingfield and Kempton.