Wednesday 17 January 2018

Mullins plans Tingle Creek return for mighty Douvan

Mullins also has the option of running Un De Sceaux in the Grade One. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Mullins also has the option of running Un De Sceaux in the Grade One. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

Johnny Ward

The majestic Douvan, which has yet to face defeat after ten starts for Willie Mullins, is set to make his seasonal comeback in Saturday's Betfair Tingle Creek Chase.

The son of Walk In The Park, which is odds-on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March, was slashed in price for the Sandown race yesterday, the sponsor going 4/6. However, Mullins also has the option of running Un De Sceaux in the Grade One.

Another possibility for Douvan is the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on December 11, a race that is the target for Sub Lieutenant. That one is unbeaten since joining Henry de Bromhead.

The trainer said: "As for his Christmas target I don't know but he'll go for the John Durkan. It's a big step up again but he's more than entitled to take his chance. Since the first day he came to me I've found he jumps very well."

De Bromhead added that he was not sure whether it would be the King George VI Chase or the Lexus for Valseur Lido. "They're around the same time so it makes no difference to how I am training the horse," he said.

The unbeaten Airlie Beach is among eight horses which have stood their ground for Sunday's Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Gordon Elliott, fresh from a six-timer at Navan on Sunday, is planning an in-depth assault on the meet.

"In the Drinmore, we're planning on running A Toi Phil, Diamond King and Lieutenant Colonel - all good horses," he said. "The ground won't bother any of them. I'd say Labaik and Bilko will run in the Royal Bond."

Bryan Cooper, meanwhile, has not been especially impressed by last year's World Hurdle runner-up Alpha Des Obeaux's spell over fences so far. A disappointment on his chase debut, Gigginstown's runner is two from two since and a candidate for the Drinmore.

Cooper said: "I thought he'd be a bit better, he's labouring away with what he is doing. At least his form got a boost with (Cork runner-up Westerner Lady) winning at Clonmel.

"He'd want to up his game - A Toi Phil was very impressive at Punchestown - and I'd say Mouse Morris is aiming him for one big day. It's another learning curve for him."

Morris, however, is hopeful about the horse's chance in a race in which six of the nine possible runners are owned by Gigginstown. "He's in good form and he'll run in the Drinmore," Morris said.

In the Hatton's Grace, Mullins has six options, including former Champion Hurdler Faugheen and Vroum Vroum Mag. The mare, which hasn't run this season, also has an entry in the King George.

Landofhopeandglory, ante-post favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, could tackle the Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle for Joseph O'Brien. Stablemate Big Ben is one of 10 entries.

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