Willie Mullins is targeting a Christmas reappearance for Douvan after deciding against sending him to Sandown for the Betfair Tingle Creek on Saturday.

The seven-year-old has not been seen in competitive action since suffering injury and his first defeat in 14 starts for Mullins in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Mullins had earmarked the Tingle Creek as his potential comeback target, but he did not appear among the declarations on Thursday morning and Mullins confirmed he will not take up his weekend entries in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase or the Hilly Way Chase at Cork.

Willie Mullins considering a return to Leopardstown for DouvanWillie Mullins is considering a return to Leopardstown for Douvan (PA)

Mullins said: “Douvan did a fantastic bit of work on Tuesday and rode out yesterday (Wednesday) and today and I just wasn’t happy with him.

“We couldn’t get the ferry this morning, it wasn’t going to be a ferry until tonight, which I wasn’t too pushed about anyhow, and I decided if I wasn’t going to run him Saturday, he won’t run Sunday at Cork either.

“We’ll just wait and hopefully have him right for Christmas. I imagine he’ll run at Leopardstown.”

Mullins also did not declare last year’s winner Un De Sceaux for the Tingle Creek, but did report him an intended runner in the Hilly Way, while Djakadam will bid for a third successive win in the John Durkan.

Un De Sceaux will make his return in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday Un De Sceaux will make his return in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday (Jullian Herbert/PA)

Just four runners were initially declared the Sandown feature, but that number was boosted to seven after the race was reopened.

The Colin Tizzard-trained Fox Norton, who was only narrowly beaten by Special Tiara in the Queen Mother Champion Chase last season before striking Grade One gold at both Aintree and Punchestown, leads the way after making an impressive reappearance in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November.

Gary Moore’s Ar Mad ran a fine race in last year’s Tingle Creek to finish fourth, but needs to bounce back from a disappointing comeback in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.

Politologue, the Haldon Gold Cup winner, is one of two runners for Paul Nicholls along with San Benedeto, while Sir Valentino represents Tom George’s stable.

Politologue is highly rated by trainer Paul NichollsPolitologue is highly rated by trainer Paul Nicholls (David Davies/PA)

Kim Bailey’s Charbel and the Henry de Bromhead-trained Ordinary World complete the line-up.