Doumen Is Facing a Testing Time

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

Doumen Is Facing a Testing Time


Byline: GRAHAM CUNNINGHAM

FRANCOIS DOUMEN knows full well that the next few days will be crucial in determining whether his Cheltenham and Aintree contenders are up to scratch.

The dapper Frenchman insists that most of his team "need the match practice", but MOULIN RICHE can cast off any ring rust caused by a 75-day break to land Haydock's Knutsford Handicap Chase at 3.20 this afternoon.

The case for this six-year-old is simple enough and revolves around the belief that he is potentially ahead of the handicapper over fences off a mark of 128. Granted, he remains relatively inexperienced as a chaser, but he has won two chases at Auteuil.

More importantly, Moulin Riche has shown marked improvement over hurdles since those wins.

A fine second behind Mephisto in Grade 2 company at today's venue early last year was followed by a gritty success in the Grade 1 Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, and Moulin Riche ought to handle this testing ground more than adequately as he limbers up for a return to the Festival.

Doumen poses punters a problem in the Rendlesham Hurdle at 2.50 by saddling two of the eight runners.

AP McCoy's mount Blue Canyon looks a stronger candidate than Millenium Royal on his first attempt at three miles, while Crystal d'Ainay is bound to attract support to win this for the second year running.

However, PATRIARCH EXPRESS (nap) looks the best bet. …

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