Velvet Maker set to avoid Douvan

Velvet Maker is set to sidestep a clash with Douvan in the BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.

Action from Punchestown

Alan Fleming's charge finished a distant third behind the Willie Mullins-trained superstar in last season's Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown and while he closed the gap in the Irish Arkle the following month, he was ultimately well-beaten in second.

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Velvet Maker has not been seen in competitive action since finishing down the field in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival last March, but is closing in on a return to action, even if he is unlikely to take up his engagement this weekend.

Fleming said: "I don't think we'll let him take on Douvan again, for obvious reasons. He's been placed behind him twice before and it's hard to see him turning the form around.

"What we're thinking of doing with him is running him in a handicap hurdle in Leopardstown on Sunday week.

"He's rated a bit lower over hurdles than he is over fences, so that might be a good option for him."

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