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Straightforward for Douvan at Leopardstown

Douvan was an imperious winner of the Racing Post Novice Chase under replacement rider Patrick Mullins at Leopardstown.

Only four went to post for the Grade One feature, and while all were of significant ability the Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner oozed class in making it two from two over the larger obstacles.

Willie Mullins' five-year-old was expected to have a fight on his hands for the lead with Jessica Harrington's Ttebbob, but Douvan's jumping immediately put that rival under pressure and he was eventually pulled up.

Sizing John closed after Douvan made a semblance of a mistake at the second-last, but Mullins knew what he had underneath him.

Without asking for an effort Douvan began to pull away again and while he was not fluent at the last, he never looked like falling and the 4-7 favourite coasted home, nearly eased to a walk at the line in winning by 18 lengths.

Paul Townend was supposed to take the mount on the Rich Ricci-owned victor, but after returning from injury after a spell out, he had a fall in the first race and stood himself down.

Former jockey David Casey, representing Mullins, said: "Everything comes easy to him, and it was an easy decision to go over fences with his size. He's built for fences and oozes class.

"It's about keeping the wheels on the bus now. He's a special horse."

Patrick Mullins, winning his first Grade One over hurdles or fences, said: "That's one of the best thrills that I've ever had. He was magnificent.

"He was clever at the last and put in a short one, whereas at Navan he went long at the last. He was just idling in front. He covers so much ground that you don't think you are going that quick. He's like a Ferrari!"

William Hill make Douvan the even-money favourite for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March, with RaceBets 10-11 from 6-4.

Townend is expected to be out of the saddle for around 10 days. He returned to action on Saturday for his first mounts since December 13, and finished fourth on Beau Mome in the Clayton Hotel Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle, but felt he was not in the right shape to continue.

The Turf Club's medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick said: "Paul Townend has a bone bruise on his right lower tibia which is still giving him some trouble. He will be out for 10 days but should be OK after that."

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