Douvan took his unbeaten record over fences to three with an impressive display in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Ruby Walsh dictated affairs from the start and the Willie Mullins-trained Douvan proved a willing partner, putting in a superb round of jumping.

Sent off at the highly-prohibitive odds of 1-14, last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero ran his two rivals ragged and put their jumping under pressure from an early stage.

Douvan surged effortlessly clear to win as he pleased by 15 lengths from Velvet Maker. Doomsday Book was another 13 lengths away last of the trio.

The winner was cut to 1-2 favourite from 4-7 for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham with Paddy Power. RaceBets went 1-2 from 8-13 for the two-mile championship on 15 March.

Walsh said: "He's a bit flat over his fences and doesn't arch his back. Master Minded used to do that, too - flat but effective over his fences. Not arching his back means he's fast away and that's a huge plus for a two-miler chaser.

"It's dead against what show jumpers are meant to do, but it's perfect for a two-miler chaser."

He added: "He's a simple horse to ride - he jumps out, watches where he's going and it's all very easy. What I really liked about him was it took a long time to pull him up. The ones that gallop thorough the line and around the bend - that's when you know there's something there.

"He's got the potential - Kauto Star had it as a novice, Vautour had it as a novice and this lad has it too, but until they go and do it in open company, you never know for sure. But Douvan certainly has the potential."

Mullins said: "I thought he jumped fantastic, maybe there was one fence down the back he stood a bit far off it. I was very impressed with the way he jumped into the bridle after the last and lengthened his stride.

"He hurdles his fences, really, and they are no effort to him. For his size he knows where his feet are. He's not awkward.

"His temperament is half the battle with him. He's so docile which means you can put him anywhere in a race when the time comes. He doesn't have to make the running."

He went on: "You are seeing now what he shows me every day at home. It's as if he's just a different species. The way he jumps I don't think we need to go beyond two miles at the moment, but we have never had any worry about his ability to stay.
"We don't know how good he his. He could be anything. He could go back over hurdles and run in a Champion Hurdle."

A Toi Phil followed up his course win over Christmas with a convincing win in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old had his chance boosted by the victory in the previous race of Don't Touch It, who he had back in second place that day and duly took this Grade Two over two and a half miles.

Acapella Bourgeois set the pace until three out where Bryan Cooper pushed the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding into the lead.

A superb jump at the final flight saw the 6-4 favourite hold the rallying Acapella Bourgeois by seven lengths.


Mullins said: "He's learning and maturing all the time. He was more like a racehorse today compared to his previous few runs.

"It was two and a half miles today, and I'd say he'd have no problem going out to three miles. He's a very accurate jumper and he'll be entered in all the novice hurdles at Cheltenham. He will probably go for either the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett.

"I doubt if he will run again before Cheltenham. I don't think he was broken in until he was four in France, so he's nearly more like a French three-year-old than a six-year-old. He's still immature."

The sponsors have put up a €25,000 bonus to the stable staff of the winner if he goes on to win at this year's Cheltenham Festival.

The Mooch (16-1) got back up in the last stride to snatch victory in the Sandyford Handicap Chase.

In-form conditional Jonathan Moore set out to make all on the Paul Nolan-trained six-year-old, who lost the lead after making a mistake at the final fence.

That left Just Get Cracking in front, but he idled in the last 100 yards, allowing a rallying The Mooch to grab the verdict by a neck.

Forty Foot Tom was a length and a half away third.

Bearly Legal (10-1) battled on well to take the 'Colours Bar' Handicap Chase by four lengths from top-weight Kayf Supreme under 5lb claimer Donagh Meyler.

"He likes a galloping track like that, and was entitled to run well on his run here at Christmas," said trainer Karl Thornton.

"I think he's more of a spring horse than a winter horse. He'll probably have a bit of a break now and I'm hoping he could sneak into the Irish National.

"He ran over three mile one the last day, but I think he stays. It was just the ground the last day."

Village Mystic (4-7 favourite) gave Mullins his fourth win on the card when lifting the concluding Leopardstown Club Membership (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race in the hands of his son, Patrick.

The trainer said: "I doubt if he will be going to Cheltenham, but he's a nice horse and will go for a winners' bumper somewhere.

"He's come from an unusual route in an English point-to-point. He looks a horse that will stay and he'll be a chaser rather than a hurdler.

"He's a big, heavy horse and I'm not sure that he will improve on better ground."

Don't Touch It ran out a facile winner of the Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle.

Jessica Harrington's 8-11 favourite had Beau Mome for company for much of the way, but saw off that rival before the last and coasted clear under Barry Geraghty, winning by 13 lengths.