The best two-mile novice hurdler of last season, the five-year-old will bid to emulate stable-companion Vautour by landing this prize en route to graded targets for the remainder of the season.
Unbeaten in four starts last season, Douvan triumphed at Gowran Park and Punchestown before winning the Supreme at Cheltenham and following-up in a Grade One at the Punchestown, when confirming his clear superiority over Sizing John.
Ruby Walsh has reported in recent days that Douvan has been “very accurate” in his recent schooling. And, barring accidents, he should justify odds-on favouritism.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Cogryhill, winner of his bumper on this track and an all-the-way winner of a recent maiden hurdle in Down Royal, looks the one to beat in the earlier Grade Two Monksfield Novice Hurdle.
Cogryhill’s rider Bryan Cooper might successfully team-up with Willie Mullins in the opening maiden hurdle, on board Potters Point, who has Jessica Harrington’s Woodland Opera to beat.
Despite a 9lbs rise for his recent 12 lengths win in the Cork Grand National, the Noel Meade-trained Tulsa Jack, reunited with 7lbs claimer Jonathan Moore, should reward each-way support in the featured Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase.
In Gowran Park today, Smashing, last seen when third to Gilgamboa in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse last Easter, might take advantage of race conditions in the Morrison BMW Chase.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge trailed in the wake of Un De Sceaux on a couple of occasions last season but recorded his sole chase success on this terrain.
And, receiving weight from his chief rivals, he makes plenty of appeal.
Supasundae, a stable-companion of Smashing and successful in bumpers at Wetherby and Ascot before joining his current yard, finished sixth to Moon Racer in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. And he’s well worth noting on his hurdling bow in the Race That Stops A County Maiden Hurdle.
And the classy Monksland, caught late by Arctic Fire in the recent Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle at Navan, will be fancied to make a successful chasing debut in the two and a half mile beginners’ event.