Lameness causes leading Champion Chase hope Douvan to miss season
Douvan, who had been general 3-1 second favourite for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, will miss the rest of the season, trainer Willie Mullins revealed on Sunday.
Mullins said: "I haven't been happy with Douvan over the past few days. He appeared to have recovered from the problem that ruled him out of the Tingle Creek but he has been intermittently lame since we started doing more with him during the week."
He added: "I've spoken to his owner Rich Ricci and because of the calibre of horse Douvan is we've decided to take a conservative approach. Consequently he won't be running this season."
The seven-year-old, beaten only once in ten starts over fences, is a six-time Grade 1-winning chaser.
He last ran when suffering his only defeat over fences at the Cheltenham Festival in March, when he finished seventh in the Champion Chase. It was discovered he had suffered a stress fracture of the pelvis.
After the Racing Post had broken the news on Twitter, bookmakers cut Min – likewise owned by Ricci and trained by Mullins – in to a general 7-2 (from 6) for the Champion Chase, the market headed at 6-4 by Altior.
Altior has experienced his own troubles this season, a wind problem forcing him to miss the Tingle Creek, although he is expected to be fit not just in time for the festival but perhaps the Game Spirit en route.
Douvan has won 14 of his 16 races over hurdles and fences. Apart from his disappointing performance at Cheltenham last season, his only other defeat was in France, when he ran second over hurdles on his debut at Saint Malo.
A dual festival winner, he landed the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2015 and the Racing Post Arkle Chase in 2016. Five of his six wins during his novice chase season were achieved at Grade 1 level.
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