Baracouda "Firing On All Cylinders" ahead of Ladbrokes World Hurdle Bid
The 10-year-old, who won the staying hurdle championship race in 2002 and 2003 but finished second to Iris’s Gift in last year’s event, worked at Chantilly, France, this morning on the Cheltenham Racecourse press day.
Doumen said: "The horse is so well today that I wish Cheltenham was this week - he’s never been so well. At the moment he is a bit too fresh but this is how I want him. He’s getting older but is ageing positively and is getting better.
"He has had two races this season and I’ve just let him tick over. I will give him one more serious workout although I haven’t decided when. If I have the pleasure to win, it will be the first time I can collect the trophy - in the past I’ve been saddling a horse in the totesport Gold Cup."
Following the retirement of Doumen’s son Thierry, champion jockey Tony McCoy will again be in the saddle at Cheltenham and the trainer added: "It is not an easy job for Tony because Baracouda is a bit of a special horse, Thierry got to know him well and now Tony is learning.
"I know we have to give Tony allowances and next time he’ll do even better. I’ve given him some leads but he has to discover the horse for himself and Tony is a real pro. The horse is as he is and he won’t change at this age."
Baracouda is evens favourite for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with the sponsor and Doumen added: "From what I saw at Cheltenham on Saturday, his major opposition seemed to run disappointingly and, at the moment, you need another real opponent. Every year I go I find it harder to win at Cheltenham - it is never an easy job and it gets more and more difficult.
"Baracouda has to do it but I think he is the best horse."
Doumen admitted that he has still not ruled out sending the 10-year-old over fences. He said: "I discuss it with J P [McManus] and Frank Berry every year and we ask what could be beating him if he carries on hurdling. I have schooled him and was very happy with the fences he jumped but we haven’t made a decision and that’s it. I will again discuss it with J P for next season but nothing is decided."
Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham’s Managing Director, said: "It was very encouraging to see both the horse and the trainer in such good form and there is every reason to believe Baracouda can come back and regain his title in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at The Festival."
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