Cheltenham 2017 Countdown: Impossible to oppose Douvan for the Champion Chase

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Racing judge Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) reviews the weekend horse racing action.

Weekend Review | 10th-11th December 2016

We’ve had another busy weekend with pointers towards the end of season Festivals galore, so let’s take a look at some of the results that should have a bearing on the spring meetings…

Defi Du Seuil tailor-made for Chepstow

First up we had a trial for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and JP McManus looks to have a big selection of talented juveniles to go to war with.

Defi Du Seuil was sent off at odds-on quotes to maintain his unbeaten UK record and he duly did so with the minimum of fuss. He’s the best of what we’ve seen so far but on quicker ground against talented flat horses, he may struggle.

However, he looks tailor-made for Chepstow later in the month if he’s sent there.

Whisper’s age catching up?

Whisper made a pleasing return over fences over two-and-a-half miles and is one of the most exciting prospects around for staying novice chases.

He’s a Group 1 winner over hurdles and seemed to enjoy himself on Saturday.

However, he’ll be nine come March and I think there may be more progressive novice chasers around.

Don’t write off My Tent Or Yours, yet

The International Hurdle was a trial for the Champion Hurdle but I’d be surprised if it provides us with the winner of the big race.

The New One won the race for the third time and he’ll no doubt run his race in March but he doesn’t appeal as an ante-post selection.

My Tent Or Yours continued his frustrating spell but I wouldn’t give up on him. I have a feeling Nicky Henderson is taking him along slowly this year and when he gets better ground and a truly run race in a big field he could well fill a place – he interests me at a very big price (40/1 Paddy Power).

Djakadam a good thing

Djakadam won a second John Durkan Chase and, though it wasn’t as easy as last year, I have a feeling it was a much better renewal.

He will head for the Gold Cup in March and as an eight year-old could still improve.

With doubts over Don Cossack and his rivals ageing, he will be tough to beat in the main event of Cheltenham week at 10/1 (Ladbrokes).

Impossible to oppose Douvan

Finally Douvan made his seasonal debut and as expected won by half the track without breaking sweat.

With the two-mile division looking weak he should have it at his mercy, and it’s a case of how many races Willie Mullins wants to win with him.

He’s already odds-on to win the Champion Chase (4/6 Marathon) and I fully expect him to be near impossible to oppose come March.

One to watch

One to take from the weekend from me was Kylemore Lough.

Still only seven, this second-season chaser is progressing still and when he encounters heavy ground I think he’ll get his head back in front.

He lost a lot of momentum three out and ran a huge race for a seven year-old off top weight. He will pay his way this season.

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About Author

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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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