Douvan is odds-on favourite with the sponsors after Willie Mullins’ star headlined eight possibles for the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
The sponsors reported “heavy and sustained” support for last season’s impressive Arkle Trophy winner, slashing the seven-time Grade One victor’s price to 4-7 from 5-1.
The two-mile showpiece was reopened due to insufficient entries and attracted a small but select list, with Mullins also represented by Un De Sceaux. However, plans for the pair remain fluid.
Mullins said: “Hopefully he (Douvan) will be able to run soon.
“He is entered for both the Tingle Creek and the Hilly Way (Cork, December 11).
“Un De Sceaux is also in at Sandown so we’ll see how things work out this week, but I would imagine Douvan would run in one of the two.
“The other route to go would be the John Durkan (at Punchestown on Sunday week) but we have Djakadam for that.
“If they had different owners they might take each other on. But for now at least I think Douvan will stay at two miles.”
Gary Moore could run both Ar Mad and stable stalwart Sire De Grugy, who won this race in 2013 and 2015.
The West Sussex trainer is keen to get a run into Ar Mad as he has been out through injury since February.
“It’s 99% Ar Mad will run in the Tingle Creek. He also has an entry in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Sunday, just in case,” Moore said.
“If they raced on Saturday I honestly think the way Sire de Grugy beat Vaniteux (at Ascot), I think he would beat Ar Mad this week, but there would probably be a different outcome at the end of the season.”
Moore’s son and stable jockey, Jamie, reports Sire De Grugy to be ticking over nicely since his Ascot victory earlier this month.
“He’s training well. He hasn’t done much since Ascot, just one canter a day. He did a couple on Monday and seems OK,” he said.
Tom George is double-handed with Grade One scorer God’s Own and Haldon Gold Cup winner Sir Valentino.
In-form Gordon Elliott can call on The Game Changer, while the Paul Nicholls-trained Vibrato Valtat completes the octet.
Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: “The two-mile chasing division appears to be at the mercy of Douvan and the market suggests that the Willie Mullins-trained horse is primed for a bold show on Saturday and is now 4-7 from 5-1 following heavy and sustained support.”
Meanwhile, Altior is the headline name amongst six entries for Saturday’s Racing Post Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old is favourite for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in March and made an effortless first start over fences at Kempton last week.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has entered The New One, who has yet to jump a fence in public — despite being eight years old.
He is also engaged in the Harry Dutfield Memorial Novices’ Chase at Exeter on Friday.
Kim Bailey is a big fan of Charbel, who won on his chasing bow at Uttoxeter and could now take the plunge in Grade One company.
The hat-trick-seeking Marracudja has made a bright start since thoughts turned to larger obstacles and has been entered by Paul Nicholls.
Max Ward, who won well at Huntingdon after a long absence, is also in the frame for Tom George, as is Zarib from the Dan Skelton operation.
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