Willie Mullins’ Douvan has now been confirmed for Wednesday’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham, setting up a huge showdown with current favourite Altior. The 8yo has not run since last year’s Champion Chase, where he was beaten by Special Tiara, but with Altior declared lame earlier today, Douvan is in with a chance of claiming an historic victory.
In this days leading up to this year’s Cheltenham festival, Nicky Henderson’s Altior has been the name on everyones lips. On Monday afternoon however, everything changed when Henderson revealed that his Irish-bred racehorse was far from 100%.
“Altior was unfortunately lame this morning in his near fore leg and we have located some pus in the frog (of his foot). He was still able to exercise in the water treadmill this morning, which he regularly does anyway, and a poultice will now be applied and left on overnight to draw out the pus,” said Henderson via twitter.
“The foot will also be ‘tubbed’ (stood in salt water) at regular intervals and the shoe will hopefully be replaced first thing tomorrow morning.
“Both our vet and farrier are working very hard and are more than hopeful that he will even be able to canter tomorrow and therefore confident he will be clear to race on Wednesday.
“Obviously we will monitor the situation and keep everybody up to date with his progress but there will be nothing more to say until tomorrow morning.”
Whilst Henderson remains hopeful that Altior will be able to participate in Wednesday’s event, the focus has swiftly shifted to Willie Mullins’ prize pair Douvan and Min.
Min was forced to take second place behind Altior at the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle back in 2016, but Douvan, prior to his defeat at Cheltenham last year, was unbeaten in 13 outings. Veteran jockey Ruby Walsh will be taking the reigns of Douvan, and trainer Mullins revealed that Walsh had a significant impact on his decision to enter the bay gelding into the Champion Chase. “Ruby has been very happy with Douvan in recent days and was keen to ride him in the Champion Chase rather than in the Ryanair,” said Mullins.
“That made my mind up and (owner) Rich Ricci was happy with that.”