Some of Willie Mullins' A-listers are set to return to the red
carpet this weekend and among them could be Douvan, once the highest- rated
chaser in training, who looks set to make his eagerly awaited comeback from a
565-day absence in thetote.com
Fortria Chase at Navan (2.10) on Sunday, writes David Jennings.
Douvan has not been seen since chasing home stablemate Un De Sceaux in the BoyleSports Champion Chase at Punchestown in April 2018 due to a pastern problem, and the champion trainer admitted getting the dual Cheltenham Festival winner back to his 2017
form could be asking too much.
Mullins said: "Douvan is fit and well and has course form at Navan, so he could go there on Sunday for the Fortria. I'm happy with what he has shown us in the last month.
"It would be nearly impossible to get him back to the level he was at a few years ago, but if we get him back to anywhere close to that, we would still have a very good horse on our hands."
Min also holds an entry in the Grade 2 race at Navan on Sunday, and although it is highly unlikely the pair would clash, the four-time Grade 1 winner is being considered for the race too.
"Like Douvan, Min has won around Navan," Mullins added. "He is ready to go and could go to Navan, but a lot will depend on what happens with their work later on this week. I won't make a final decision on which of them will run where until nearer the
Mullins has no shortage of top-notch two-mile chasers, and last season's Racing Post Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres has been pencilled in for the Grade 3 Poplar Square Chase at Naas on Saturday (1.05).
Footpad was a hot favourite for the race 12 months ago but came down at the last when having his work cut out to catch Saint Calvados, and Mullins is hoping for better luck with Duc Des Genievres.
"Duc Des Genievres seems to be fine and the ground will certainly suit him this weekend. The race at Naas on Saturday is for second-season novices, so that would suit him nicely," Mullins said.
Melon, runner-up in the last two Champion Hurdles, is one of ten entries from Closutton for the 2m3f beginners' chase at Naas on Saturday, but Mullins could wait 24 hours for the 2m1f beginners' chase at Navan the following day.
"I am very keen to get Melon out. I have been looking forward to him going chasing for some time," the trainer added. "We have a lot of possibles for the beginners' chase on Saturday at Naas and I am not quite sure which ones will show up there, but Melon
could wait for Navan on Sunday as two miles one on heavy ground could be the right test for him at this stage."
If Melon does turn up at Navan on Sunday, he will be trying to emulate Footpad, who landed the race in 2017 before winning the Arkle a few months later. Anibale Fly won the same race in 2016, so it has an illustrious roll of honour.