Big guns readied: Douvan and Un De Sceaux among huge Mullins Punchestown team
Douvan and Un De Sceaux will lead a formidable assault by Willie Mullins on the BoyleSports Champion Chase at the Punchestown festival later this month.
The superstar duo could be joined by stablemates Min, who is a possible runner in the JLT Melling Chase at Aintree this week, and Great Field as 11-time champion Mullins aims to chase down trainers’ title leader Gordon Elliott, who is ahead by €550,801.
The Champion Chase is the highlight on the opening day of the five-day meeting, which runs from Tuesday, April 24 through to Saturday, April 28.
Douvan fell when leading in last month’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, his first run since losing his unbeaten record for Mullins when seventh in the same race in 2017.
Un De Sceaux was a beaten favourite in the Ryanair Chase before capturing the Devenish Chase at Fairyhouse having been left clear by the fall of Doctor Phoenix at the second-last.
Mullins said: “Douvan is good. He seems fine since Cheltenham and we are training him towards Punchestown and the BoyleSports Champion Chase.
"Min is entered at Aintree but could still run at Punchestown and Great Field has pleased me since Navan and would be under consideration for that race also. I was very happy with his effort at Navan on his first run of the season.
“Un De Sceaux won nicely at Fairyhouse and the plan would be for him to go to the Champion Chase as well. He hasn’t done much since Fairyhouse but he’s made of iron and we are looking forward to it.”
He added: “The horses that have run at Cheltenham and at Fairyhouse appear to have come out of their races fine and we are looking forward to being well represented at Punchestown.”
These include Djakadam, Bellshill and Killultagh Vic (Coral Punchestown Gold Cup), Getabird (2m or 2m4f novice hurdle), Melon and Wicklow Brave (Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle) and Laurina.
Faugheen and Coquin Mans, winner of the Grade 2 Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle at Fairyhouse, have the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle as an option alongside the Champion Hurdle. Penhill, winner of the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, is also a likely runner along with Bacardys.
Mullins said: “We were obviously going to Cheltenham hoping Penhill could do what he did and win there without a run, but the closer it got to the race I was just hoping to myself that he could run well at Cheltenham and then come back for this race at Punchestown – it was some prep run!
“We have made other entries for the race and we’ll see closer to the time. Bacardys would be likely to go there and Benie Des Dieux has options.
"Faugheen likes it around Punchestown and could go back there for the Champion Hurdle, which is a race he has won before, or we could step him up in trip. We’ll see how his work is in the coming weeks.”
Mullins added that his Champion Bumper winner Relegate would likely head to Punchestown and be joined by Carefully Selected, Tornado Flyer, Blackbow, Hollowgraphic and Colreevy.
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