Thank you for signing up. 

We've sent you an email. Please click on the link to verify your address.

Win big with FREE Tips from our experts

Get our professional tips mailed direct

2016 Arkle Challenge Trophy runners - Douvan the star attraction in Tuesday's race

Jon Wilde in Tues. 14th March 14 Mar 2016
  • A field of seven will go to post for the 2016 Arkle Challenge Trophy
  • Douvan will start a red-hot favourite for trainer Willie Mullins
  • Get the details about all the Cheltenham runners and riders
Ruby Walsh and Douvan clear the last fence on the way to winning at Leopardstown on January 24 2016 (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Willie Mullins has no doubts Douvan has enough experience over fences to justify his billing and claim a second successive Cheltenham Festival success with victory in the Arkle Challenge Trophy on Tuesday.

Douvan landed an emphatic victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last year and has made a seamless transition to fences with three effortless wins so far.

The six-year-old is held in the highest regard by his trainer Mullins, who rates him right up there with dual Champion Hurdle hero Hurricane Fly as the most talented horses he has ever trained.

Mullins said:
“This time last year I couldn’t believe what I was seeing from him on the gallops. Looking back, I can't believe I said what I did (potentially the best horse he has trained) but I was only saying what I was seeing at home and thankfully he lived up to it at Cheltenham. 
“He probably looks our best prospect of the week, but it's hard to think you are depending on a novice chaser just because of the nature of novice chasers. 
“Douvan is at that point of his career when I don't know if we've ever had anything as good. He captures my imagination every time I see him. 
“I’m happy he has enough experience. He has had three starts over fences and although it would have been great to have had another, we had a very dry autumn.”

Douvan’s owner Rich Ricci believes the sky could be the limit. He said:
“He is so elegant and such a wonderful mover. He’s a monster and something special. He’s so tall that if he was a human he would be Cary Grant. 
“He does things effortlessly and knows he is good looking. I just hope he stays sound because he could be anything. He’s the most friendly horse and just a pleasure to have.”

Chief threat to the rising star looks to be Nicky Henderson-trained Vaniteux, although the Lambourn handler feels he may have to settle for second best with the seven-year-old.

Henderson said:
“This has always been on the radar for Vaniteux. Douvan has always been there and we all saw how he won the Supreme last year and he’s probably the biggest banker of the week. 
“Vaniteux is in good order and if we ride him to finish second he will definitely finish second.  
“Douvan is so good. Fences are like hurdles to him. He’s scary. But Vaniteux is in good order - I can't see us beating this brute, but we will try to.”

Although The Game Changer has won his last three starts over fences, his trainer Gordon Elliott also expects it will be a case of achieving a place at best.

Elliott said:
“He's had a wind operation since his last race and used to bleed, but he lives outside day and night now and seems a different horse since. Apart from coming in to go on the walker, he's outside 24 hours a day. 
“He has won six chases and three Graded chases during the summer. It will be very hard to beat Douvan. If he stands up you'll be placed at best, but I think if the ground dries up he would have a good each-way chance.”

Jockey Jonathan Burke is used to seeing the rear view of Douvan aboard Sizing John, being beaten by him four times.

Although facing a tall order on paper, Burke will give the Henry de Bromhead-trained six-year-old every chance of finishing in the frame by deploying the tactics he is most suited to.

Burke said:
“It's all systems go, but on all known form he has no chance against Douvan. He's beaten us four times. 
“I've always ridden him handy and will probably do so again. He's as good a jumper as you can get.”

The seven-runner field is completed by Neil Mulholland-trained pair Fox Norton and Baltimore Rock, and Aso from Venetia Williams’ yard.


Cheltenham promotions United States
Change Location


Share this with your friends

To:
From:
Your comments:

2016 Arkle Challenge Trophy runners - Douvan the star attraction in Tuesday's race

Willie Mullins has no doubts Douvan has enough experience over fences to justify his billing and claim a second successive Cheltenham Festival success with victory in the Arkle Challenge Trophy on Tuesday.

Read more »

You have unread messages

You have unread messages