Emerging apprentice Jean Van Overmeire is looking forward to renewing his association with Doukhan after the sturdy stayer helped spark his breakthrough season.
Originally from South Africa, Van Overmeire began his apprenticeship in England before giving it away to work for trainer Mike De Kock and then making his way to Australia where he is indentured to Bjorn Baker.
He has exceeded his own expectations by challenging for the 2017/18 Sydney apprentices premiership after riding just one metropolitan winner last season.
The Kris Lees-trained Doukhan won twice in a row for the 24-year-old and now they reunite in Saturday’s Stayers Cup (3200m) at Randwick, the first time Van Overmeire will have ridden over the distance.
Van Overmeire has two wins from three rides on Doukhan and anticipates a strong showing in the endurance test on rain-affected ground.
“I genuinely think he’s up to that mark. This is Doukhan’s time of year and the (heavy) ground will do him the world of good,” Van Overmeire said.
Doukhan returns to Sydney after the nine-year-old ran fifth in the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) at Flemington on May 19.
“That run suggests he’ll be a great chance. He’s just a trier, he switches off in the run until the last 800 metres then he puts himself in the race,” Van Overmeire said.
Doukhan was the $3.50 second elect with the TAB on Friday behind another veteran, Destiny’s Kiss ($2.90).
“I’m really excited, especially with the light weight (53kg) on his back,” Van Overmeire said.
Doukhan has also drawn handily in barrier six, unlike Van Overmeire’s mount Oriental Runner in the Listed June Stakes (1100m).
Oriental Runner ($16) will start from the outside gate.
“It’s going to be a very tough task from out there,” Van Overmeire said.
He was still pleased with the booking given his background with Warwick Farm-based trainer Garry Neale.
“Over relationship escalated after I rode a couple of winners for Garry in the country,” Van Overmeire said.
While he has five rides at Randwick, there is one race Van Overmeire is not concerned about, the duel with Sydney premiership leader Rachel King.
Van Overmeire has 27 metropolitan winners, four shy of King who was runner-up to Andrew Adkins last season.
“Whatever happens, happens but it’s more of a goal for next season,” he said.
“I’ll be halfway through my apprenticeship in August and I’m already a little bit on front of where I expected to be.”