Willie Mullins rules out step up for Douvan


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Willie Mullins has no intention of stepping Arkle winner Douvan up in trip this season, the champion trainer has confirmed.

Douvan had been touted as a potential contender for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but Mullins has ruled out that option.

His unbeaten chaser maintained his perfect record with a facile success in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday, extending his record to 11 wins from as many starts in the process.

With Paul Townend deputising for regular pilot Ruby Walsh, Douvan was a bit free in the early stages but he came clear of his rivals in ready fashion to dominate the race.

He survived a minor blip when catching the top of the third last fence before impressing over the final two obstacles.

Afterwards, Mullins revealed that Kempton is not on his radar. “The King George would not be in my plan at the moment.

I’m happy enough to stick to that (two miles) this year,” he told At The Races. Douvan looks set to be the dominant force over two-miles this season, with the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham his ultimate target.

Reflecting on his Cork success, Townend felt the six-year-old had shown some signs of his long summer break but that he had also learned quickly from his minor jumping error.

“He was awesome. He was a bit gassy early, but it was his first run of the year and he did everything right,” said Townend.

“He was in front a long time and it (mistake at the third-last) probably opened his eyes for him and then he winged the second-last.”

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