The most exciting young chaser in training, Douvan (6g Walk In The Park-Star Face, by Saint Des Saints), put in another superlative performance at Aintree on Grand National day when capturing the G1 Maghull Novices’ Chase.
“I have never seen him off the bridle!” said trainer Willie Mullins after this latest success. The 10-time winning Walk In The Park gelding has never been out of the frame in 11 races and has been headed only once, when second on his racecourse debut in France as a four-year-old.
Today’s win makes him a six-time G1 winner and at the age of six who knows what is to come. Mullins added: “I have been telling everyone since before he went to Cheltenham last year that I have never seen anything like him on our gallops. No matter what you put him beside he just comes up there with his ears pricked.
“Paul said when he gave Douvan an inch of rein he couldn’t believe how much he lengthened his stride and just breezed into the lead.
“I would love to take him to Punchestown but it might be too close – it might not be fair on him so we will see but at the moment everything is open to discussion.”
Paul Townend stepped in for the ride following an injury to Ruby Walsh and he was delighted to get the call up.
“It’s a long time since I last rode him in a race [at Gowran Park in November 2014] – he’s just different league. He covers so much ground and does everything so simply – he’s a machine. Any course is straightforward on a horse like him,” said the jockey.
“He had a little reach at the ditch the first time but after that, when he got into a rhythm over the fences down the back, he was deadly. The plan was to keep it simple and we did. It opened up between the last two, I gave him half a squeeze and he just took off underneath me.
“You are in it to ride horses like that, so if you couldn’t get excited about days like today, you never will.”