Ruby Walsh on Douvan: "He's a very accurate jumper"PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Douvan dominates again to seal Festival hat-trick
Report: Punchestown, Thursday
Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1) 2m, 5yo+
DOUVAN completed the Cheltenham-Aintree-Punchestown treble in effortless style, leading from start to finish and never looking in any danger under an ice-cool Ruby Walsh.
The brilliant winner of the Racing Post Arkle had been on his toes throughout the preliminaries but showed no ill effects once he got down to business.
The win was Douvan's fifth Grade 1 success over fences and left groom Gail Carlisle in tears of joy as she brought him back to the winner's enclosure.
'He's a dream to ride'
The toughest part of the outing for Walsh, not for the first time, was finding the superlatives to describe his latest victory and he was again full of praise for the six-year-old.
"He has loads of speed, he's a great ride and he's a very accurate jumper. At the last fence, you wouldn't even notice him getting off the ground.
"Like good two-milers I've ridden in the past, he doesn't arch his back. His front end lifts and his back end stays very level. He's a dream to ride and a wonderful horse."
Plenty of options to consider
Owner Rich Ricci admitted to being worried when he saw Douvan playing up in the parade ring but was relieved by the performance in the end.
"He is something else," he said. "I haven't watched it all, I only saw the end but he seemed to be travelling smoothly from what I was listening to and it was never in doubt.
"He's so effortless. He gets away from a fence so quickly and it'll be interesting to see what happens next year now."
The Champion Chase seems the obvious target for Douvan but Ricci suggested a step up in trip could be on the cards for his superstar.
"I wouldn't mind stepping up in trip to see what he can do but we'll have plenty of time to talk about that over the summer. Like all of ours, he'll have plenty of options, which I know will frustrate people but we'll try and share our thinking all along.
"He's a horse I think you want to step up in trip. He's so big and he hasn't stopped yet, has he? He could be a King George horse, he could be anything.
"It's a great performance by Willie and Gail. He's a pleasure to own."
Also on Thursday
Punchestown: Kildare Post (C&G) INH Flat Race 2m, 4-7yo
Willie Mullins completed a double on the day in the final race of Thursday's card as Invitation Only made it two wins from two career starts to date under rules.
The five-year-old was always travelling kindly for Patrick Mullins and battled strongly in the closing stages to get the better of Blast Of Koeman to score.
In a race that looked like being a source of future winners, the Jessica Harrington-trained Sunni May claimed third, having also travelled strongly into the straight.