Rejuvenated stayer Doukhan can earn a Christmas Cup berth by clinching a city hat-trick at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday. The nine-year-old, whose career has been beset by tendon problems, is in form with a vengeance and lines up in the Benchmark 85 Handicap (2400m).
Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire has partnered Doukhan ($5 with TAB fixed odds) in his recent wins over 2400m at Randwick on November 7 and over 2700m at Canterbury on November 22, and has the mount again. Doukhan humped 60kg at Canterbury, and Van Overmeire’s city claim brings him in with 3kg less on Saturday.
“Doukhan deserves his chance at a Saturday race in town,” Lees said. “If he can keep his winning momentum going, the obvious target is the Christmas Cup in a fortnight.”
The $125,000 Cup (2400m) will be run at Royal Randwick on December 16, and carries Listed status. Because of his injury woes, Doukhan has raced only 20 times - for six wins and five placings.
Other imports Singing (Andrew Gibbons, $51) and Slow Pace (apprentice Rachel King, $51) will represent the stable in the Listed ATC Cup (2000m): “I’m happy with the way both are going,” Lees said. “But their chances would be so much better if we get some rain.”
Powerline (King, $8.50) is likely to be the stable’s sole representative in the Benchmark 85 Handicap (1300m): “Savoureux drew right off the track and we’ll probably keep her for another day,” Lees said.
“Powerline has done well since returning home after his first-up third in the greys’ race at Flemington during the Cup carnival. Rachel’s claim and an inside draw bring him in with an excellent chance, and he has been runner-up at both Rosehill starts.”
Lees has kept Zestful ($23) in work since returning from Melbourne, and she runs in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m). Christian Reith has the mount.
“It’s not going to be an easy assignment; it looks a pretty hard race,” he said. “Zestful will probably get back, and she is going to need luck at the right time to make ground on the leaders and pick them up.”