Sunday 16 December 2018

'Unlucky' Douvan can bounce back to his best, insists Walsh

Walsh:
Walsh: "Who knows what would have happened had he not fallen at the fourth last?" Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Ruby Walsh is confident Douvan's huge engine remains intact for the new campaign.

The eight-year-old was unbeaten in his first 13 starts after joining Willie Mullins in 2014, an all-conquering run which included successive wins at the Cheltenham Festival in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy.

However, he suffered a shock defeat and injury in last year's Queen Mother Champion Chase and did not return to action until this year's renewal of the two-mile showpiece, in which he fell four fences from home when in the lead.

Douvan was beaten by stablemate Un De Sceaux on his only subsequent start at the Punchestown Festival, and Walsh - who missed out on riding the horse on both starts last season through injury - is keeping his fingers crossed connections get a clear run with him this winter.

"I thought Douvan would win the Champion Chase. I was reading the commentary on my phone," Walsh said in his role as a Paddy Power racing amabassor.

"Who knows what would have happened had he not fallen at the fourth last? It was amazing to get him back.

"The engine is there - he just hasn't had any luck - and it would be great for the racing public to see the horse that we think he is."

Impressive

Meanwhile, Dermot Weld has high hopes for Tankerville following an impressive debut performance at Gowran Park yesterday.

The American-bred son of Kitten's Joy justified odds of 4/5 with a facile success in the Goresbridge (C & G) Median Auction Maiden.

Carrying the colours of Khalid Abdullah, Declan McDonogh's mount hit the front racing inside the final furlong of the one-mile contest and passed the post with a shade over two lengths in hand.

Weld said: "That's it for this year, and he'll be a lovely mile-and-a-quarter or mile-and-a-half horse. We'll probably start him off in the Ballysax next year."

The Weld-McDonogh-Abdullah combination went on to complete a double, with Bona Fide (8/1) claiming a narrow success in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap.

The regally-bred Albuquerque opened his account to complete a quick-fire double for Aidan O'Brien.

As a son of Galileo out of Looking Back, Albuquerque is a full-brother to the top-class Rip Van Winkle - which won the Sussex Stakes, the QEII and the Juddmonte International for the Ballydoyle team.

The O'Brien-trained Chablis (8/1) made a winning racecourse debut in the opening Follow Gowran Park Racecourse On Twitter Fillies Maiden.

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