By Glenn Davis
Veteran stayer Doukhan will be given the chance to vindicate Newcastle trainer Kris Lees’ decision to expand his forays into Queensland when the gelding steps out in the Group 3 Queen’s Cup at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
Rising 10-year-old Doukhan will be ridden by another veteran, reigning premier jockey Jeff Lloyd, who is back following a brief stint riding in his former homeland in South Africa.
Lees has had his best ever season having trained 167.5 winners to sit third behind Chris Waller and James Cummings in the NSW trainers’ premiership.
He is currently fifth with 41 wins in the Sydney trainers’ premiership.
Lees has been a regular visitor to Brisbane in recent years and plans to increase his presence next season.
Lees has won three races with Doukhan in Sydney over middle distances and is keen to give him his chance to clinch a feature 3200m success.
The former French stayer, who was placed over 3000m in France, has tried three times to win over the Queen’s Cup trip with his best effort, a close second to rival Plot Twist in the Stayer’s Cup at Randwick last month.
“He’ll go well and he deserves to win over this trip before he goes for a spell,” Lees said.
“He’s been in work a long time but he’s racing well so he should be hard to beat.
“I’ve been taking horses to Brisbane for a long time but I’ll be going up there more regularly from now on.”
Doukhan has started only 28 times during his career and is coming off a last start fourth to Harper’s Choice in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on June 30.
As well as running 3200 metres in the Stayer’s Cup, Doukhan ran seventh in the Group 1 Sydney Cup at Randwick during the autumn which earned him a trip to Melbourne when fifth in the Listed Ramsden Stakes at Flemington in May.
“He hasn’t had many starts for a nine-year-old mainly because he’s had a couple of tendon injuries along the way,” Lees said.
“He got quite a long way out of his ground in the Sydney Cup but it was a good run to finish seventh.
“I took him to Melbourne after that for the Ramsden and he raced okay before he came back home for the Stayers’ Cup and Winter Cup.
“He only just got beaten in the Stayer’s Cup and he was coming back in distance when he ran in the Winter Cup last start.”
Lees has named the Team Snowden-trained Plot Twist as the main threat to Doukhan winning for the first time over 3200 metres.
Racing Queensland webnews July 12