Ruby Walsh is confident both Douvan and Faugheen can leave their injury woes behind this season and bounce back to their breathtaking best.
The Willie Mullins-trained duo are back in training at Closutton after their respective problems and Walsh says here is no reason why they cannot come back to the peak of their powers.
Douvan was last spotted finishing down the field behind Special Tiara in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March. He went off the odds-on favourite but saw his unbeaten record smashed and was never really comfortable in the race.
Faugheen is unraced since he won the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January 2016 with what many termed the best performance of his already brilliant career.
With 27 races between them, the Rich Ricci-owned duo have amassed 25 wins, no fewer than 16 at Grade 1 level and four Cheltenham Festival victories amongst them.
At nine years of age, Faugheen is two years older than Douvan but Walsh still sees a bright future for both of them.
“The last time Faugheen ran at Leopardstown he looked unbeatable – he’s in great order. He’s a cracking racehorse and looks to be progressing well to me,” said Walsh.
“If he keeps going the way he’s going at home at the moment, he’ll be back. There’s no reason to suggest he won’t come back to his best.”
Faugheen is 7/1 to win the Champion Hurdle in March and is behind only reigning champion Buveur D’Air in the betting.
It is a similar tale for Douvan, rated a 3/1 chance to make amends for his Queen Mother Champion Chase heartache last time out and second only to the brilliant unbeaten chaser and Arkle winner Altior, the 5/4 favourite in the betting.
Walsh insists the nature of Douvan’s concern means there is a strong chance he’ll return as good as ever and the early signs suggest he is going to do just that.
“Willie has not let me ride him yet but he looks very well. He’s in great order,” he added.
“His injury was a bone injury and a much better injury to get than a ligament or a tendon or anything like that. With bone problems it’s just rest, ligaments and tendons are a very different story.
“He should return to 100 per cent, and he certainly looks 100 per cent.”
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