The opening day of the Punchestown Festival was not a good one for odds-on backers, with all three short-priced favourites being turned over. Cue Card was another defeated in similar fashion on day two.
Willie Mullins’ superstar duo Yorkhill and Vautour were both beaten when sent off at 4/9 and this has to cause concern about the third of the trainer’s hotpots on Thursday.
Like the previous pair, Douvan has arrived at Punchestown on the back of races at both the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree’s Grand National meeting and there has to be a concern that this again will prove one contest too many in a fairly busy season.
Meanwhile, doubts about the form of the Mullins stable would be justified after Punchestown thus far and the weekend’s Sandown meeting, when Valseur Lido was second at 4/5 and Un De Sceaux looked well below his best when dominated by Sprinter Sacre.
Taking all of this into account, Douvan has to be classified as a risky betting proposition at 1/6 to win the Ryanair Novice Chase.
On the plus side is that he has already beaten four of his five Punchestown opponents this season (some more than once), while the other appears to be greatly out of his depth in Grade 1 company based on his achievements so far.
Sizing John and The Game Changer are considered the main rivals based on the Ryanair betting and alongside their multiple defeats to Douvan previously, both also arrive here on the back of runs at Cheltenham and Aintree.
He was pulled up behind Douvan at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, having made all in emphatic fashion at the beginning of the season.
Ttebbob has disappointed again since at Navan, but he has had the best part of three months to recuperate, missing all of the spring Festivals in the process.
This is similar to another Jessica Harrington-trained runner in Don’t Touch It, who took advantage of Yorkhill’s tiredness to triumph on day one at Punchestown.
How Ttebbob will handle this quicker going is a bit of an unknown, but given the busy schedules of the majority of his rivals, it is worth a small saver that he rediscovers the form that saw him blitz away from a horse currently rated 146 by 41 lengths earlier in the season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.