Monday 23 September 2019

Douvan set for Leopardstown after shining on chasing debut

Jockey Jack Kennedy and his mount Riverside City manage to avoid the stricken Ballychorus (Adrian Heskin) at the final fence before going on to capture the featured Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan yesterday
Jockey Jack Kennedy and his mount Riverside City manage to avoid the stricken Ballychorus (Adrian Heskin) at the final fence before going on to capture the featured Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan yesterday

Thomas Kelly

Douvan delighted his legion of followers with a successful chasing debut at Navan and next stop is likely to be Leopardstown at Christmas.

The French recruit has won his four starts after joining Willie Mullins last season including a brilliant win in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

A prohibitively priced 2/11 favourite for his eagerly-awaited comeback and chasing debut, Douvan was sent straight to the lead by Ruby Walsh and jumped with accuracy and speed for much of the two-mile-one-furlong journey.

The five-year-old found an extra gear to leave Rogue Trader and Blair Perrone trailing in his wake between the final two fences and while his supporters suffered a brief heart-stopping moment when he guessed slightly at the final fence, he got to the other side in one piece and quickened away for a nine-and-a-half-length success.


Rogue Trader beat Blair Perrone to the runner-up spot. "He jumped well. I don't think we learned anything except that he's able to jump fences," said Mullins.

"We probably learned he's able to handle himself when he stood too far back off the fence. He was cute enough and got his two feet out and recovered well, which is a good sign in a horse.

"Ruby said the horses coming behind revved him up a bit, which is no harm, he got some experience. Otherwise, it was probably just a schooling session for him, but we'll take those when we get them.

"The Racing Post (Novice Chase) at Leopardstown would look the next race. I don't think we've got time to put another run in. He'll probably just have a good schooling session somewhere."

Elsewhere on the card, 16-year-old rider Jack Kennedy shone with a treble, highlighted by the victory of Riverside City in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase for trainer Gordon Elliott, who also saddled runner-up Georges Conn.

Elliott - successful in last year's renewal with Balbriggan - declared four horses for the prestigious handicap, but his team was halved when Azorian and Bonisland were taken out.

Empire Of Dirt and Kylecrue disputed the lead throughout and remained to the fore at the top of the home straight. Empire Of Dirt was still in with every chance when crashing out three fences from home, and six horses were in contention jumping the next, after which in-form mare Ballychorus started to assert.

However, she was being reeled in by the Elliott duo when she came to grief at the last. Her departure left the stable-mates clear and it was Riverside City (8/1) who emerged victorious by a length and three-quarters under conditional Kennedy.

Kennedy, who had earlier scored on Elliott's 2/1 favourite Baroque Style in the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust Handicap Hurdle, said: "It's my first winner over fences and to get it in such a big handicap is lovely."

Elliott and Kennedy completed their hat-tricks as Prince Of Scars edged a thrilling Proudstown Handicap Hurdle. The 9/2 chance just got the better of Russian Bill by a nose, with 7-2 favourite Roll It Out only a short-head back in third.

Kennedy said: "That's my first treble. I've had them before in pony racing, but this is a totally different level."

Earlier, Barry Geraghty steered Falcon Crest to a decisive success in the "Monksfield" Novice Hurdle.

The Christy Roche-trained five-year-old was sent off at 100/30, having cruised to victory on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse earlier in the month, and Geraghty always appeared confident he had matters in hand throughout the Grade Two assignment.

Moylisha Tim and Dallas Cowboy ensured a strong pace and they remained at the head of affairs at the top of the home straight, but Falcon Crest moved ominously into contention.

Dallas Cowboy was sticking to his task well when suffering a crashing fall at the second-last, with Falcon Crest fortunate not to get brought down.

Geraghty took aim at Moylisha Tim approaching the final flight and Falcon Crest picked up well once popped the question to seal the deal by six and a half lengths.

Jessica Harrington's Woodland Opera (11/4) stayed on well to beat Coney Island by three parts of a length and take the opening maiden hurdle in the hands of Robbie Power.

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