Douvan delivers on debut

Douvan made a successful start over fences when justifying 2/11 favouritism in a beginners chase at Navan, won last year by stablemate Vautour, and remains unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins.

The Supreme Novice Hurdle winner and Punchestown Champion Novice made easy work of the field of 14 as Ruby Walsh led from pillar to post.

Already favourite for the Arkle next March, Douvan’s position solidified at the head of market after his comfortable and slick success. He is now 7/4 favourite.

Mullins was pleased with the victory but was keen not to get carried away.

“He jumped well – I don’t think we learned anything except that he’s able to jump fences,” he said. “We probably learned he’s able to handle himself when he stood too far back off the [last] fence. He was cute enough and got his two feet out and recovered well, which is a good sign in a horse.”

Douvan will attempt to take the same route to Cheltenham as Vautour did last year.

“The Racing Post (Novice Chase) at Leopardstown would look the next race. I don’t think we’ve got time to put another run in. He’ll probably just have a good schooling session somewhere.”

Mullins also confirmed this weekend that Annie Power has suffered a setback.

Owner Rich Ricci is keen to protect his star mare and she is unlikely to run until the Cheltenham Festival.

“She is fine. She has just had a niggling set back and she will probably not run until Cheltenham.

“We won’t take any chances with her as she is too valuable and is my pet. We will do the right thing by her.

“She will be back in work at the end of December then we will step her back up and get her ready for Cheltenham.”

In the final race at Navan the Alan Shearer owned Augusta Kate maintained her unbeaten record with a wide margin win in the mares flat race. Mullins is keen to keep her fresh for the Aintree Mares Bumper despite market support for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, as well as the new Mares Hurdle.

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