Douvan star name at Cork
The view from conections as Douvan makes his seasonal reappearance in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Navan on Sunday.
Douvan: Back in action in the Hilly Way Chase.
All eyes at Cork on Sunday will be on the mighty Douvan as he makes his hugely-anticipated seasonal reappearance in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase.
With Punchestown staging Grade One action on the same day Ruby Walsh misses the ride, but in Paul Townend Douvan has someone who has ridden him to victory over hurdles and in in the Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree.
Having skipped the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last weekend, which was won by stablemate Un De Sceaux, Douvan begins life outside novice company in a Grade Two, giving weight to some very capable performers, not least Gilgamboa.
All things being equal, however, it will be the biggest shock of the season so far if Douvan fails to deliver Willie Mullins an eighth Hilly Way winner in nine years.
"It was extraordinary last season, winning five Grade Ones – it was blemish free," said Mullins' son and assistant, Patrick.
"He's got a lot to live up to, but we obviously think an awful lot of him.
"This is his first run out of novice company and that is always a little worry as you just never quite know, and this is a competitive race – it's by no means a walkover.
"He's got to give Gilgamboa 8lb and officially he is only rated 10lb better than him, and Gilgamboa has had a run and we haven't.
"He's ready to start off, but he will certainly come on for it. We'll be disappointed if he can't continue his winning ways, but you just don't know until they step out of novice company."
Enda Bolger is building back towards Aintree and the Grand National with Gilgamboa.
Fourth in April, he ran a stormer on his comeback over two miles when losing out in a photo to Arctic Skipper in the Fortria Chase at Navan, which has persuaded Bolger to have another go over this trip.
Bolger said: "It was a cracking run first time up, we didn't think he'd be that sharp.
"To be honest, with Douvan running, we thought it would be a smaller field and we'd pick some prize money up.
"Everything is being built around Aintree so we don't want to stretch him too much before that. It's only half an hour down the road so we may as well take our chance.
"If all goes well in this it could be the Lexus next."
Days Hotel won the race back in 2012 and has another go for Henry de Bromhead.
Mozoltov has his first outing for Mouse Morris having been in the Gigginstown draft which left Mullins.
Gordon Elliott runs The Game Changer and Vukovar, who failed to live up to expectations when trained in England, while Fine Rightly represents Stuart Crawford.
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