The Kris Lees-trained Doukhan and Joe Pride’s evergreen veteran Destiny’s Kiss will be in rare company when the pair of 10-year-olds line up in the Listed WJ McKell Cup at Rosehill.
Not many racehorses remain in training at the age of 10 and even fewer are up to contesting stakes company once they hit double digits.
In fact, Australian Stud Book statistics show that of the more than 28,000 horses who ran in races last season, less than 1500 were older than eight years of age.
In the case of Doukhan, Lees says the horse’s longevity is due partly to the fact he’s had two serious injuries which have restricted his career to a relatively light 36 starts.
“He’s had a couple of tendon issues that kept him out of racing for extended periods, so I suppose that’s helped him race at an older age,” Lees said.
“For a 10-year-old, he doesn’t have a real lot of runs next to his name and we don’t waste any runs.
“We don’t run him under 2000 metres anymore and he always stays in work, so he’s got that residual fitness and goes to the races when it’s appropriate.”
Doukhan hasn’t been to the races since he hit the line resolutely to finish fifth to stablemate Shraaoh in the Group One Sydney Cup at Randwick on April 13.
Lees, who this week brought up his 200th winner for the season, has no qualms over Doukhan’s fitness for Saturday’s 2400-metre race but he would prefer a rain-affected track and the horse may be saved for another day if Rosehill stays dry.
He also has High Opinion in the WJ McKell Cup and is keen on the gelding’s chances following consecutive seconds at the Wagga Wagga and Scone carnivals respectively.
From barrier six, High Opinion has drawn to get a handy run for Sam Clipperton and he meets the horses who have beaten him at his past two starts, Abdon and Free Fly Too, on better weight terms.
“And you can make a case for him being unlucky, so he gets in well,” Lees said.
“He ran really well in the Wagga Cup without a great deal of luck, then at Scone he was off the track, he had a really tough run from a wide gate so there was plenty of merit to the run.”
The Lees-trained pair opened at $8.50 after the final field was declared on Wednesday with Abdon and Girl Tuesday equal $4.60 favourites to give Chris Waller his first win in the race.
Destiny’s Kiss is a $21 chance to land back-to-back McKell Cup wins.