led, mistake 4 out, soon headed, weakened from 2 out
in rear in 5th, mistake 8th, ridden after 2 out, never dangerous
tracked leader, not fluent 1st and 3rd, led after 4 out, clear before last, easily
in touch in 4th place, went 3rd before last, one pace and never dangerous
tracked leaders in 3rd, chased winner from 2 out, not fluent last, no chance with winner
Unbeaten in his last nine races over hurdles and fences, DOUVAN can further strengthen Willie Mullins' grip on the trainers' title. His seven-length defeat of Sizing John in the Arkle was one of the most impressive performances of last month's Festival. It was his fifth Grade 1 victory and there should be plenty more to come from the imposing six-year-old, who is already a hot favourite for next year's Champion Chase. Fox Norton and The Game Changer were third and fourth at Cheltenham with the latter possibly needing the run. However, he is much better when the ground is riding fast and that won't be the case today. Ballybolley has run well on all three previous starts here but his first win over fences, on his seventh attempt, at Haydock came over 2m4f in a handicap and this is a huge step up.
Alisier D'Irlande (FR) 4-7fav (11-9) Made all, took keen hold early, went clear from halfway, stayed on strongly from last, not extended, easily, won at Leopardstown 2m 1f sft in Feb beating Dysios (11-9), 6 ran.
Ballybolley (IRE) 4-1fav (11-5) Close up, led before 7th, clear before 2 out, kept on well, won at Haydock 2m 4f hcp (2) gd in Mar beating Five In A Row (11-12) by 8l, 11 ran.
Douvan (FR) 1-4fav (11-4) Prominent, led 3rd, clear when reached at last and mistake, stayed on well, comfortably, won at Cheltenham 2m (1) gs in Mar beating Sizing John (11-4) by 7l, 7 ran.
Fox Norton (FR) 33-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, outpaced in 4th and beaten when slightly hampered 2 out, stayed on to take 3rd final 75 yards, no chance with winner, 3rd of 7, 10 3/4l behind Douvan (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m (1) gs in Mar.
The Game Changer (IRE) 14-1 (11-4) Held up in last trio, pecked 2nd, headway 3 out, left 3rd when bumped 2 out, mistake last, weakened and dropped to 4th inside final 100 yards, 4th of 7, 13l behind Douvan (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m (1) gs in Mar.