'Exciting' Douvan all set for chasing debut at Navan
Ruby Walsh expects Douvan to make a "good transition" to the chasing game on his eagerly-awaited debut over fences at Navan on Sunday.
The son of Walk In The Park was a dominant winner on each of his four starts after joining Willie Mullins from France last season, proving himself the cream of the crop in the two-mile novice hurdling division with key victories in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
Henry de Bromhead's Sizing John, behind Douvan at Gowran, Cheltenham and Punchestown last season, has already made a flying start to his chasing career with successive triumphs at Punchestown and Douvan gets his chance to show his worth over the larger obstacles in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Beginners Chase.
"He seems to be in great form. He did really well over the summer. He was a big, raw horse last year and looks to have developed and matured a bit," Walsh told Racing UK.
"He's schooled well over fences and of the horses who ran behind him last year, Sizing John has run twice and won twice, which is franking the novice hurdle form a bit.
"Hopefully he'll make a good transition. If he jumps on the track like he has at home, it should be a good transition.
"He seems to have plenty of stamina, but he definitely has loads of speed as well. He's quite a quick horse for a big horse.
"He was a very accurate jumper of a hurdle and if he's as accurate at a fence, it'll be exciting."
Douvan, who is already a best priced 9-4 favourite to strike Cheltenham Festival gold once more in the Arkle Trophy, will face 13 rivals this weekend.
Tom Taaffe's course scorer Rogue Trader is one of five runners in the field for leading owner JP McManus, while Tony Martin saddles Blair Perrone and Bobbie's Diamond.