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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019

Willie Mullins is holding the strongest of hands for the Celebration Chase

The Closutton trainer is determined to win the British Champion Trainer title.

Douvan on his way to winning the Novices' Chase at Aintree earlier this month.
Douvan on his way to winning the Novices' Chase at Aintree earlier this month.
Image: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/Press Association Images

WILLE MULLINS HAS entered Un De Sceaux, Vautour and Douvan into Saturday’s Celebration Chase at Sandown.

The Carlow-based trainer is just £45,379 behind Paul Nicholls’ in the race to be crowned British Champion Trainer and, with £485,000 in prize money up for grabs on the final day of the jumps season at Sandown, there is still all to play for.

Perhaps the most exciting race of the day is the Grade One Celebration Chase which has £71,187 on offer for the winner and will see the Mullins’ trio go up against three of Nicholls’ own in former Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets as well as Solar Impulse and Ulck Du Lin.

However, the nine-time Champion Trainer’s best chance of denying Mullins’ the title could well come from Nicky Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre who enjoyed comeback success at Cheltenham last month.

If that wasn’t enough, Sire De Grugy, Special Tiara and Kerry Lee’s Top Gamble make up the 10 entries.

Douvan leaving novice company is perhaps the biggest surprise but it shows how serious the Irish trainer is about winning the title.

Mullins had comfortably led the race to be named Champion Trainer until the weekend when four-timers at both Ayr and Wincanton saw the reigning champion coming from £133,134 behind to take the lead.

Irish Gold Cup - Leopardstown Racecourse Barry Geraghty has managed to avoid suspension. Source: Pat Healy/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Meanwhile, Barry Geraghty will be free to race in next week’s Punchestown Festival after his 30-day ban for the ride he gave Noble Emperor at Limerick was overturned on appeal.

The Meath jockey finished second on Tony Martin’s eight-year-old on 3 April, behind Velocity Boy, who made all the running and finished a comfortable 11-length winner.

At the time it was ruled that Geraghty failed to “allow the horse to run on its merits” which led to the ban.

Owner JP McManus was also banned from running the horse for 60 days and Martin received a €3000 fine following the incident.

But after a three-hour appeal process last night, Geraghty’s ban, and the punishment dished out to McManus and Martin, was quashed at the Irish Turf Club.

Geraghty is now free to ride in the festival which runs from 26-30 April.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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