Turf Talk: Ricci deliberating over Douvan schedule after death of Vautour

Trainer Willie Mullins (left) and owner Rich Ricci.
Trainer Willie Mullins (left) and owner Rich Ricci.
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Owner Rich Ricci has admitted the death of Vautour could see Douvan take a different route this season.

Douvan is unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins and has won at the last two Cheltenham Festivals.

He has yet to run over further than two miles and a furlong, but has been entered in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day – a race in which Vautour finished second last year – and could now be asked to step up in trip.

“I would say that before any of this happened (the death of Vautour) this weekend, we would have said we’d stay over two miles this year and maybe step him (Douvan) up in trip next year,” said Ricci. “We will have to see. He would need a run before he goes and does that. He’s only a second-season novice so it’s a big ask. I think clearly he’s a Champion Chase contender and we’ll have to see how the season pans out.

“But I would say right now we will stick to two miles and maybe step up in trip for something like the King George, but the Cheltenham target would most likely be the Champion Chase.”

Trainer Kim Bailey could begrudgingly let The Last Samuri take his chance in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury later this month.

Last season’s Grand National runner-up made his first appearance since his excellent effort at Aintree when he finished fifth in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday.

Another Grand National bid is top of Bailey’s agenda, but with opportunities scarce between now and then due to The Last Samuri’s elevated handicap rating, he could head to Newbury on November 26.

Bailey said: “We might have to run him in the Hennessy, but I don’t really want to. He is a difficult horse to place rated 159. He ran well enough the other day. It was fast ground and all he did was set it up for the speed horses.

“The winner (Valseur Lido) is a good animal.”

SOBOT’S SELECTION

SOUTHWELL: 12.25 Barista, 12.55 Win Lose Draw, 1.25 Royal Icon, 1.55 Showdaisy, 2.25 Parnassian (next best), 2.55 Senses Of Dubai (treble), 3.25 Safira Menina, 3.55 Prisom.

CHELMSFORD: 4.25 Magdalene Fox, 4.55 Vanderbilt, 5.25 Ejaaby, 5.55 Embleton, 6.25 Elas Ruby, 6.55 CONSULTING (NAP), 7.25 Vincenzo Coccotti, 7.55 Rainford Glory.

LUDLOW: 1.35 Happy Diva, 2.05 Quantum Of Solace, 2.35 Argante, 3.05 Big Casino, 3.35 She’s Late, 4.05 Lord Huntingdon

TOWCESTER: 12.45 Double Court, 1.15 Tobacco Road, 1.45 A Plein Temps, 2.15 Pinkie Brown, 2.45 Graceful Legend, 3.15 Always On The Run, 3.45 Aspergillum.

Trainer Karl Burke: Sends out Quiet Reflection.

Conditions set to suit sprint duo