No Douvan as Mullins relies on Un De Sceaux
A PLUNGE on Douvan for Saturday's Betfair Tingle Creek fell by the wayside on Thursday morning after the Racing Post Arkle winner was not declared for the Sandown Grade 1.
Trainer Willie Mullins will instead rely on Un De Sceaux, the mount of Ruby Walsh, in a six-strong field, which includes Sire De Grugy, Ar Mad, God's Own, Sir Valentino and Vibrato Valtat, who was added to the field after the race was reoffered.
While Mullins had remained tight-lipped on the prospect of Douvan running in the Tingle Creek, his price plummeted to 4-7 (from 4-1) on Tuesday with BoyleSports' spokesman Leon Blanche insisting: "All the people we respect are on."
With his participation remaining unconfirmed on Wednesday, the seven-time Grade 1 winner's odds drifted out to odds against and he became a high-profile absentee at the Tingle Creek's 48-hour declaration stage on Thursday morning.
Mullins could unleash Douvan next weekend, as he said: "We haven't made a definite plan for his return but the Grade 2 Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork a week on Sunday would look an obvious race to start him off in and he could go there."
On the chances of Un De Sceaux, the trainer added: "He's in good form and ready to start his campaign. It will be a tough assignment first-time out but he's been to Sandown before and knows the track."
Betfred have announced they will refund all ante-post stakes placed on Douvan. Firm spokesman Andrew Griffiths said: "In all honesty the Tingle Creek hasn’t been a great advert for ante-post betting.
"Many of our customers have had their fingers burned with the news Douvan will miss the race, and while ante-post betting carries an element of risk, we have decided to refund stakes on this occasion."
Gary Moore holds a strong hand in the Tingle Creek with two-time winner Sire De Grugy and last season's exciting novice Ar Mad, who is unbeaten in two starts at the track. Jamie Moore rides Sire De Grugy, with brother Josh on Ar Mad.
In-form trainer Tom George is also double-handed with God's Own and Sir Valentino, while champion trainer Paul Nicholls will be represented by Vibrato Valtat.
Un De Sceaux heads the sponsors' betting at 15-8 with Ar Mad slightly favoured over his stablemate Sire De Grugy, at 3-1 and 100-30 respectively, and God's Own next best at 4-1. Outsiders Vibrato Valtat (16-1) and Sir Valentino (40-1) complete the market.
Inspection on Friday
The ground at Sandown was raceable on Thursday afternoon, but clerk of the course Andrew Cooper has called an inspection for Friday morning at 7.30am due to the threat of frost.
Cooper said: "We are being quite cautious in calling an inspection and are extremely optimistic. Hopefully we can give the thumbs-up straight away.
"We would have raced at 3pm on Thursday but the weather could be a bit cooler than first thought - even though 0C is the lowest we should get down to - so we have acted on the safe side and called an inspection."
Rest of Saturday
With The New One poised for his chase debut at Exeter on Friday, a meeting subject to an 8am inspection, Altior is set to face five rivals in the Racing Post Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
Charbel, Marracudja, Max Ward and Zarib will take on the Arkle favourite in the Grade 1.
A high-class field of 24 have been declared for the same day's Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the National fences at Aintree.
Last season's Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri heads the weights on 11st 12lb and is prominent in the betting at around the 12-1 mark.
Ucello Conti, sixth in the National in April, is joint-favourite alongside Alvarado with most firms.