Paul Townend cannot wait to get the leg up on Douvan in the Tingle Creek and he believes Sandown Park could be the “perfect place” for Willie Mullins’ star.
Douvan was a long odds-on favourite for last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham but he rarely appeared to be going with his usual gusto under Ruby Walsh and duly lost his unbeaten record.
He was found to have sustained a stress fracture of his pelvis in that race and has not been out on the track since.
Given that issue, Townend believes his tame showing in the Cotswolds is easily overlooked ahead of his Tingle Creek comeback.
“You have to remember they’re not machines, they’re racehorses and injuries can be picked up,” he said.
“Hopefully he’s over his injury worries now and, from what I’ve seen of him at home, he certainly seems to be. Let’s hope he can get back on track.”
With Walsh currently sidelined due to a broken leg, Townend is coming in for the big rides as Mullins begins sending his superstars out for the new term.
Few had a bigger reputation than Douvan before his Cheltenham flop. He remains 4/5 favourite for the Tingle Creek and Townend is confident that he’s back somewhere close to his very best.
The jockey also feels the unique test that Sandown offers is going to play to Douvan’s strengths.
“I’ve been lucky enough to ride him three times before and he has given me an amazing feel on each occasion,” Townend said.
“The chase track at Sandown can be a great place to ride around or a horrible place to ride around. It depends what you’re on. It’s not the most enjoyable experience if you’re on a dodgy jumper – the fences come thick and fast, especially the Railway fences down the back.
“You’d like to think that Sandown is the perfect place for Douvan. He has always been a brilliant jumper and hasn’t put a foot wrong so far. Let’s hope that continues on Saturday.”
Fox Norton, second to Special Tiara in the Champion Chase, is 2/1 to win the Tingle Creek, with Colin Tizzard’s charge having comfortably reversed that form with Henry De Bromhead’s runner as he won a second Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month.
Special Tiara is also bound for Sandown and can be backed at 16/1 to win the Tingle Creek.
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