Mullins star Douvan poised for Tingle Creek return
Douvan is on course to make his eagerly-awaited comeback in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on December 9.
Owner Rich Ricci reports the star two-miler, who has been sidelined since disappointing in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, to be pleasing trainer Willie Mullins and his team ahead of his seasonal return.
"We had a chat last week about where we might go and Willie was very articulate, I thought, about the options," said Ricci.
"You've got Un De Sceaux, Min, Djakadam and Douvan. They could run in any of three races - the Hilly Way, the John Durkan or the Tingle Creek.
"And when he said to me the other day that the big horse gets on the boat, that means he's heading for the Tingle Creek.
"There's the usual caveat that anything could happen in training, but it seems to be the target. It's an iconic race and I'd love to see him jumping those fences."
Mullins and Ricci have suffered a setback with news that Annamix is out for the season. The four-year-old gelding, who had been ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham before he had even made his debut for the Mullins team, has damaged his pelvis.
Mullins, meanwhile, is responsible for three of the seven remaining entries in the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Stayers' Hurdle hero Nichols Canyon, smart novice Cilaos Emery and the mare Augusta Kate could attempt to give the champion trainer a fourth win in the Grade One feature.
Last year's winner Apple's Jade, which is also in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday, could be joined by her Gordon Elliott-trained stablemate Mick Jazz.
Jessica Harrington's Coral Cup victor Supasundae and the Joe Murphy-trained Swamp Fox complete the septet.
Bryan Cooper could also be back in the saddle to partner Fox Norton in the Sandown showpiece on Sunday week after being assessed for his shoulder injury yesterday. Cooper has been advised to rest for a week or so after confirming he is suffering from bruising following his fall at Ascot on Friday.
Elsewhere, there will be plenty of goodwill for The West's Awake in the Betdaq Rated Novice Chase at Punchestown today as the John Magnier-owned gelding represents trainer Edward O'Grady, whose wife, Maria, died last Saturday. The West's Awake, a winner of two of his last three races, faces four rivals from leading yards.
Mullins is represented by Bravissimo, Gigginstown House Stud runs both the Gordon Elliott-trained Woods Well and the Mouse Morris-trained Tout Est Permis, while O Ceallaigh represents trainer Peter Fahey.
Jockeys' championship leader Davy Russell will be hoping to extend his advantage with five rides at the meeting, three of which are for Henry de Bromhead.
Paloma Blue begins the pair's day in the opening maiden hurdle and has claims if improving his jumping technique from his timber debut at Naas recently, while Russell's mount Good To Flow in the Sign Up To Betdaq Today Handicap Hurdle has solid claims for trainer Pat Fahy.
The Beginners Chase sees the return of the Enda Bolger-trained Stand Up And Fight. The JP McManus-owned gelding was a smart performer over hurdles last season and might be able to score on his chase debut under Mark Walsh.