Douvan not declared for Gowran Park as Willie Mullins' star looks set to go straight to Cheltenham
Douvan will not run in tomorrow's Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park after Willie Mullins's brilliant chaser was not declared among the final field of five for the Grade Two over 2m4f.
This means the brilliant eight-year-old – beaten in just one of his 14 starts for Mullins when lame in last year's Cheltenham Champion Chase – will head straight to next month's Festival providing he continues to please on the Closutton gallops.
The remaining quintet are lead by RSA Chase fancy Presenting Percy with Pat Kelly's exciting novice facing a fascinating duel against Jessica Harrington's Irish Grand National hero Our Duke over a trip shorter than ideal for both.
Mullins still holds claims with last year's winner Ballycasey bidding to make it back-to-back wins (and four consecutive victories for greys in the race) while A Toi Phil and Valseur Lido round out a classy field.
The champion trainer has also opted against running his versatile mare Vroum Vroum Mag in Sunday's Grade Two Boyne Hurdle with Bapaume representing the Closutton maestro against the Gordon Elliott pair of Diamond Cauchois and Lieutenant Colonel while Patrick Griffin's Maggio completes the quartet of runners.
In today's Irish Independent, columnist Patrick Mullins outlined how he felt both Douvan and Vroum Vroum Mag would still be fighting fit for Cheltenham Festival even without a prep run.
Of Douvan, Mullins said: "We’ve just been taking it day by day with Douvan slowly stepping him up. The vet’s been very happy with him, Holly Conte who rides him out is happy with him so until we see something to stop, we’re just going to keep slowly building it.
"We brought Quevega straight to Cheltenham for many years and it worked, so we've given the entry to give ourselves the option of running. It's not the end of the world if he doesn't have a run."