One of the big talking of the past few months has been about the wellbeing of former Champion Douvan.
Described as being the “special one” by owner Rich Ricci, the former Champion has been off the track after an injury that he sustained at the festival last March. He was pencilled in to run in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday, although while I was writing this article I heard he had not been declared.
It will be interesting to see if Willie Mullins can fit a race into his schedule before Cheltenham comes around. And while he might just need the run out, if he performs reasonably well and comes out of the race okay then he may well book his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival.
The question many punters are asking is just what race the Mullins camp will send Douvan to at the Festival. Will they decide to drop back down to two miles for the Champion Chase against Altior, or the longer trip of the Ryanair Chase? Perhaps crucially Rich Ricci already has Min in his armoury for the Champion Chase after a sparkling display at the Dublin Racing Festival. Now there is nothing in the Ryanair that really stands out, with Ricci having Djakadam and Ballycasey as possibilities for the two-and-a-half-mile contest. But nothing is set in stone yet for a lot of these horses.
So, while we wait on seeing him in public again, I wouldn’t be advising anyone on have a few quid on him for Cheltenham, as he isn’t an absolute certainty to make the festival. Although I for one really hope we can see back on the biggest stage in Jumps racing, And I’m sure a lot of other racing fans will be in the same boat.
Article by Jamie Lindsey