Mullins happy with Douvan
Views from connections ahead of the BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.
Douvan: Runs in the Tied Cottage
Douvan will face just three opponents in the BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.
The seven-year-old has won each of his 12 starts since joining Willie Mullins and stretched his unbeaten record over fences to eight at Leopardstown in December.
Douvan is already an odds-on favourite to claim what would be his third Cheltenham Festival success in the Queen Mother Champion Chase next month, following his previous victories in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy, and he will undoubtedly be a very warm order for this weekend's Grade Two assignment.
"I have been happy with Douvan and the Tied Cottage comes at nice time for him," said Mullins.
"It's a track that he has won at so hopefully he runs well."
Official ratings suggest the brilliant French recruit faces a relatively straightforward task.
Douvan must concede weight to each of his rivals, but is rated 18lb above the second-highest-rated runner, Smashing, and gives him just 2lb.
Despite his obvious superiority, jockey Ruby Walsh is taking nothing for granted.
He told Racing UK: "He's in great order. It's a Grade Two, so he'll have Grade One penalties, but he should be able to cope with that.
"There's no such thing as an unbeatable horse, unfortunately.
"You have to give the opposition the respect they deserve."
With a rating of 156, Smashing is certainly no slouch.
The grey won twice at Grade Two level for former trainer Henry de Bromhead, but has been a shade disappointing since joining Mouse Morris this season.
Mullins' title rival Gordon Elliott relies upon the veteran Realt Mor, who faces a far more taxing assignment than when he sprang a surprise in a handicap hurdle at Thurles last month.
Completing the quartet is John Ryan's consistent performer Draycott Place, who was third in the ultra-competitive Dan Moore Memorial Chase at Fairyhouse before occupying the same position over hurdles at Naas last weekend.
Ryan said: "We gave him a run over hurdles last week to sharpen him up for this and he ran a cracker.
"The winner (Charlie Stout) has come out and won again since and two miles is probably short enough for our horse over hurdles, but it suits him over fences.
"Douvan won't be easily beaten, obviously, but I think our lad will run a nice race on Sunday and anything can happen in these small fields.
"I'm not afraid to take on anything and Draycott Plate is a fair horse when things go his way as he's as tough as nails.
"We'll see how he goes on Sunday, but we might think about entering him for the Grand Annual in Cheltenham if things go well."