Willie Mullins still has Punchestown hopes for Faugheen and Douvan

Willie Mullins still has Punchestown hopes for Faugheen and Douvan

Faugheen ridden by John Codd. Photo: Healy Racing.

Willie Mullins will aim to have one possible last hurrah with Faugheen and Douvan at the Punchestown Festival.

Both have scaled the heights at Cheltenham in their careers, with Faugheen winning what is now the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 2014 and the Champion Hurdle the following season.

Douvan landed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2015 and the Arkle a year later, but has been blighted by injury since his defeat in the 2017 Champion Chase.

Faugheen has been the busier of the two in recent seasons, finishing third in the Ryanair in March, while Douvan was last seen winning the Clonmel Oil Chase in November 2019.

“They’re not going to Cheltenham, but I don’t have any good news or bad news,” said Mullins.

“They are both tipping away, and myself and Rich (Ricci, owner of both) haven’t got round to talking about them yet.

“We’ll look at Punchestown. If things happen for Punchestown then all well and good, but if they don’t we’ll have a big chat then.”

Meanwhile it is “all systems go” for Cap Du Nord ahead of the Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton on Saturday. A winner at Newbury earlier this season, the eight-year-old has subsequently chased home possible Gold Cup contender Royale Pagaille at Kempton over Christmas and then finished a creditable third in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

Trainer Christian Williams feels conditions back at Kempton will suit him much better this weekend and he is excited to be running in a major handicap with a favourite’s chance.

“It’s all systems go and we’re excited. Better ground could be the key to him, we’ll see this weekend,” said Williams.

“We took him to Cheltenham (on Monday) with Potters Corner for a school over the cross-country fences and he went well. It will be a quiet week now before Kempton.”

Reflecting on his Doncaster effort in soft ground, Williams said: “We probably could have gone for an easier race somewhere, but we wanted to be involved in a real nice race.

“We’re up to 142 now so we’ve got to go for the nice races, but it’s great to be involved in them. I could probably find a race midweek that he could go and win, but we want to be involved on the big days as it helps raise the profile of the yard. “It’s good experience for Jack (Tudor) to be riding in these types of races.”

Paul Nicholls dominated the finish to the feature race at Taunton yesterday , with Bryony Frost and Rockadenn just edging out Harry Cobden on Pic D’Orhy.

Pic D’Orhy looked sure to register his first win since last season’s Betfair Hurdle was cruising to the front at the second-last in the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance Handicap Hurdle.

However, he found a little less than Cobden was expecting, and Frost was at her tenacious best on the Million In Mind-owned winner. Rockadenn (17-2) prevailed in a photo by a head - and Nicholls now has some nice handicaps in mind for the winner.

“I didn’t know what to expect because he ran out up at Musselburgh,” said Nicholls. “The other lad was having his first run since a wind op and maybe I ran him a bit quick.

“The winner has a couple of entries at the Festival in the Coral Cup and the County Hurdle, and he could also go for the Scottish Champion Hurdle before we turn his attention to fences in the autumn.”

Cobden did not leave empty handed, though, as he had earlier provided Colin Tizzard with a welcome winner thanks to The Widdow Maker in the Aspen Waite Complete Business Growth Service Maiden Hurdle.

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