DOUVAN is set to take his chance in tomorrow’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.
Trainer Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci had suggested on Sunday they might avoid a clash with their other hope, Min, and wait for Thursday’s Ryanair Chase.
However, he was among nine horses declared for the two-mile championship and that would set up an intriguing clash with Altior.
Douvan does have a point to prove as he has been out of action since disappointing in this race 12 months ago, when sent off the 2-9 favourite.
Min heads to the Cotswolds on the back of an emphatic victory in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown. He has a score to settle with Altior, having been beaten seven lengths when they met in the Supreme in 2016.
Altior won last year’s Arkle as well and Nicky Henderson’s charge showed his well-being when he disposed of Politologue at Newbury last month. He had missed much of the season after having undergone a wind operation in the autumn. Politologue, trained by Paul Nicholls, renews rivalry.
Last year’s winner Special Tiara goes for glory again. His trainer Henry de Bromhead is also represented by Ordinary World. The field is completed by Ar Mad and Charbel,
The only withdrawal at the 48-hour final declaration stage was the Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux, who is set for the Ryanair.
Samcro, meanwhile, will bid to maintain his unbeaten record, and enhance his sky-high reputation, when he takes on 13 rivals in tomorrow’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old steps up in trip to two miles and five furlongs as he attempts to claim a seventh consecutive victory under rules and a second successive Grade One triumph.
CHELTENHAM: 1.30 SAMCRO (NAP), 2.10 Monalee, 2.50 Max Dynamite, 3.30 Altior (next best), 4.10 Cause Of Causes, 4.50 Nube Negra, 5.30 Felix Desjy (treble).
SOUTHWELL: 1.20 Warrior’s Valley, 1.55 Medici Moon, 2.35 The Jungle Vip, 3.15 Volatile, 3.55 Captain Lars, 4.35 Cousin Khee, 5.15 Teardrop Island.
HUNTINGDON: 1.45 Sgroppino, 2.25 Ulis De Vassy, 3.05 Beyeh, 3.45 Derrynane, 4.25 Call Carlo, 5.05 As I See It, 5.40 Before Midnight.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.45 Dream Farr, 6.15 King Kevin, 6.45 Seasearch, 7.15 Bowditch, 7.45 Jonnysimpson, 8.15 Spring Romance, 8.45 Surrey Blaze.