Nov 05, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Monday, November 5, 2018: VETERAN stayer Doukhan has arrived in Melbourne – but is not yet certain to chase Cup day glory at Flemington tomorrow.
Kris Lees withdrew the resilient 10-year-old from a Rosehill Gardens assignment last Saturday and accepted with him in the Benchmark 96 Handicap (2800m) on the second day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.
But Lees is hoping there will be rain in Melbourne this evening to soften the Flemington surface, which was firm on the opening day last Saturday.
“There was some rain early this morning, but not enough,” Lees said from Melbourne this afternoon.
“We’ll see what happens overnight. I don’t want to run him on a firm track.
“I’ve also got him in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m Group 3) at Flemington on Saturday and there’s the Sandown Cup (3200m) a week later.”
Doukhan, as a $101 outsider, ran a career-best second to accomplished wet tracker Moss ‘n’ Dale in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) on a Royal Randwick “Heavy 9” surface on October 13 when having his first start since July 14 when fourth in the Queensland Cup (3200m) at the Sunshine Coast.
Damien Oliver has been booked to ride Doukhan if he takes his place in tomorrow’s field. He has 56.5kg - only 2.5kg above the minimum.
Flemington this afternoon was rated a “Good 4”. Only 3.2mm of rainfall has been recorded in the past 24 hours, but more showers are forecast.
If they don’t arrive and Lees waits for another day with the gelding, he will have only one representative at the Cup meeting –Tibbie Stakes winner Princess Posh in the $200,000 Group 3 HKJC Stakes (1400m).
He has already withdrawn Karavali from the TAB Trophy (1700m).
Glyn Schofield, who rode Princess Posh in her Group 3 Tibbie(1400m) success at the Newcastle Cup carnival on September 14 and also when third to Shoko in the Group 3 Tesio Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on October 27, again has the mount.
“Princess Posh has come through the Moonee Valley race really well,” Lees said. “She is nicely drawn and there doesn’t seem any reason why she won’t run well again.”
Stablemate Powerline will line up for the third consecutive year on Thursday at Flemington in the annual greys’ race, the Subzero Handicap (1400m) – and Oliver will ride him at 60kg topweight.
Powerline (James McDonald) ran ninth to Pepperano in 2016, and Hugh Bowman was aboard when he ran third to Tribal Wisdom in last year’s renewal.
“It doesn’t look the strongest greys’ race we’ve seen, and Powerline deserves his chance,” Lees said.
Kennedy Mile (Group 1) runner-up Le Romain, Wakeful Stakes (Group 2) third El Dorado Dreaming and Empire Rose Stakes (Group 1) fifth Invincible Gem won’t race again this spring.
“I was proud of all three,” Lees said. “We did nominate Le Romain for the International meeting at Sha Tin (Hong Kong) next month, but he has had a busy year and deserves a break.”
Meanwhile, Lees has given NSW jockeys’ premiership pacesetter Andrew Gibbons the opportunity at Royal Randwick tomorrow to add to his best ever start to a season.
Gibbons will ride Lees’ pair High Power (Benchmark 70 Handicap, 1400m) and Tactical Advantage (1100m Handicap).
With 47 wins already under his belt since August 1, Gibbons is understandably setting his sights on a century for the first time (his best so far has been 79 in 2016/17).
“High Power has won a couple of times first-up, and has had two trials to prepare him,” Lees said.
“He is drawn awkwardly (10 in a field of 11) and no doubt will be better for the outing, but I’m expecting him to run wellif he can have some luck.
“Tactical Advantage hasn’t drawn the best either (7 out of 9), but if Andrew can overcome that gate on him, I’m sure he will be hard to beat.
“He didn’t really appreciate the heavy track when fourth to Pierata in the Sydney Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Everest day (October 13), but had won three of his previous four starts on good surfaces.”