Douvan set to tackle longer trip at Gowran on weekend return
Star chaser Douvan was the subject of a Ryanair plunge on Tuesday after being a surprise name among the entries for the 2m4f Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park this Saturday.
Douvan has yet to race beyond two miles and a furlong but has been given the option of reappearing over a longer trip this weekend, and seemingly encouraging punters into thinking the Ryanair could end up being his Cheltenham Festival assignment.
Bet365, Coral and Ladbrokes all made him joint-second favourite at 4-1 (from 7, 6 and 5) behind stablemate Un De Sceaux, while he was also trimmed by those firms for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, for which he is a best-priced 6-1 third favourite behind Altior and another stablemate, Min.
Trainer Willie Mullins said: "I decided to enter Douvan for Saturday but I'll wait a couple of days before deciding if he'll run. We're very happy with the way he's been working."
Douvan has not raced since losing his unbeaten record over fences in the Champion Chase at last year's Cheltenham Festival, where he finished seventh behind Special Tiara.
The nine-time chase winner was due to reappear in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December but missed the race, along with an option at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting due to intermittent lameness.
With the entries for the Gowran Park highlight also including Our Duke and Presenting Percy, and with the likes of Cue Card, Coney Island, Top Notch, Blaklion and Call Me Lord among a stellar cast in Britain, this Saturday promises to be a day to savour for jumps fans.
Another Mullins-trained top performer in line for a possible return to action this weekend is Vroum Vroum Mag, who is among ten entries for the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
A three-time Grade 1 winner over hurdles, Vroum Vroum Mag has not run since finishing seventh in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle in April, when she suffered a pelvic injury. The nine-year-old is one of five Mullins-trained entries for the race.
Who partners the trainer's runners this weekend remains to be seen, with Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend sidelined.
Townend, out of action since injuring a foot when Killultagh Vic fell at the last in the Irish Gold Cup earlier this month, will be assessed by Turf Club chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick next week.
McGoldrick said: "Paul was stood down for two weeks. He's away on holiday and I'll be seeing him next Tuesday."
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