Douvan In A Different League For Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
The 2015 Punchestown Festival gets underway with a bang on Tuesday courtesy of the Grade 1 Herald Novice Hurdle (4.20pm) where Willie Mullins’ superstar, Douvan, looks set to go off a rock-solid 1/3 favourite.
Douvan For The Double
Having won four of his five hurdle races, this 5yo looks destined for the top next season, and has already been punted into 6/1 for the 2016 Champion Hurdle. That price came courtesy of a massively impressive victory in last month’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when storming home by over 4l, despite racing freely in the early stages.
Clearly in a different league to those Douvan looks set to face on Tuesday, he will be looking to emulate last year’s winner, Faugheen, who also won at Cheltenham prior to landing this prize.
As a proven C&D winner who goes on both good to soft and heavy ground, there aren’t many cracks in Douvan’s profile, and it will be a major shock if he is turned over here.
John Sizing Up Another Crack
Looking to get closer to Douvan this time around will be Henry De Bromhead’s Sizing John (5/1), who was 7l behind at Cheltenham having been headed just before the last. A Grade 1 winner at Leopardstown beforehand, Sizing John may have been a lot shorter in price in a normal renewal of this race, but will need to find more reversing form with Douvan.
Sizing John did at least make the top three at Cheltenham, which has been a good pointer for this race down the years…
Of the last 10 Champion Novice winners…
10 returned 8/1 or shorter
10 made the top three last time out
8 were Irish-bred
While the stats suggest one of the aforementioned pair should win from the fancied end of the market, there is still plenty of each-way value around, including Rich Coast (25/1), who is a Grade 3 winner and was keeping on to be beaten 6l in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse last time (2m, soft).
Almost 2l behind Rich Coast at Fairyhouse was Blair Perrone (25/1), while Velocity Boy (33/1) recorded a career best in a minor novice last time (2m4f, heavy) and may need the ground to soften if getting into the race.
Having already established himself as the leading novice around, another impressive victory for Douvan on Tuesday may see his price for next year’s Champion Hurdle contract further, though punters have the opportunity to make almost 30% of their stakes beforehand on day one of Punchestown.
*Prices correct at time of publication