Douvan absent from Tingle Creek as Fox Norton heads final seven


The vibes on Wednesday that Douvan would not run in Saturday's Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown proved spot on when the star chaser was not declared for the Grade 1 chase.

Ar Mad, Fox Norton, Politologue and Sir Valentino were the initial declarations, but the race was reopened on Thursday morning and they were joined by Ordinary World, San Benedeto and Charbel - perhaps due to the absence of the towering 14-time winner.

Douvan's trainer Willie Mullins said on Thursday: "Douvan worked very well at the Curragh on Tuesday. He cantered yesterday. He did another little bit early this morning and I wasn't entirely happy with him.

"Maybe he hadn't fully recovered from what he did on Tuesday and I decided not to declare him for Sandown. No decision has been made regarding when he will have his first run of the season."

The seven-year-old, whose only defeat over fences came in last season's Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, was widely expected to make his comeback from a stress fracture suffered in that reverse in the Tingle Creek.

However, a number of bookmakers suspended betting on the race on Wednesday, following a surge of support for Fox Norton, who began the week as second favourite behind his odds-on Irish rival.

Douvan's stablemate Un De Sceaux, last year's Tingle Creek winner, was also taken out by Mullins, although Sunday's Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork has been his aim for a while.

Declarations also came through on Thursday for the Randox Health Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

Blaklion heads the 16 runners, which also include last year's winner Vieux Lion Rouge, but not 8-1 chance Gas Line Boy, whom trainer Ian Williams will reroute to the 188Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase on the card.