After fabulous performances at Cheltenham and Aintree, Douvan (6g Walk In The Park-Star Face, by Saint Des Saints) delighted his home crowd at the Punchestown Festival on Thursday when cruising around to win the G1 Ryanair Novice Chase by 11 lengths.
Despite still being only six, it was a seventh G1 win for Rich and Susannah Ricci’s home-bred son of Walk In The Park and connections must now decide whether to take the Champion Chase or Gold Cup route next season.
“We’ve seen a few not able to do the three Festivals this week so that was great,” said trainer Willie Mullins. “You wouldn’t have known he’d been to Cheltenham and Aintree, It was as good a performance as we could have possibly hoped after that heavy schedule. He’s an incredible horse and what you saw there we are lucky enough to see every morning at home.
“My immediate thoughts for next year are that we might take on Sprinter Sacre and go the Champion Chase route. But equally we could make a Gold Cup horse out of him. He travels and has the temperament that you need to be a stayer. But he’ll go out to grass now and I’ll chat it over with Mr Ricci over the summer. He’s a big, immature horse with a big frame and could get stronger over the summer. He’s six and could improve again.”
Walsh added: “There was a fair headwind and he was idling in front, so I was waiting for the others behind me just to keep him competitive. Willie doesn’t talk things up unnecessarily and he has always talked this horse up since very early on.
“He has loads of speed and is a great ride. He is very accurate jumper – at the last fence you wouldn’t even notice him getting off the ground. I suppose like other good two-milers I have ridden, he doesn’t arch his back – his front end lifts and his back-end stays very level. He is a dream to ride and a wonderful horse.”