By Nick Robson
FRANCOIS DOUMEN reports star staying hurdler Baracouda in great form ahead of his attempt to land his third Ladbrokes World Hurdle crown.
In four previous attempts at the race he has two victories to his name and been runner-up twice, and with his recent conquerors either aimed at other contests or on the sidelines, he looks to have a leading chance once more.
He is the general 9-2 favourite for the race and with question marks surrounding many of the leading protagonists, hopes will be high he can become the first horse to claim the crown three times.
"Baracouda is at the top of his form and I’m quite happy to keep him very fresh," said the French handler
"He is a very clean winded horse so he is not one that needs a lot of races and he has been in many battles down the years and come back as good as ever."
Meanwhile both Blue Canyon and Millenium Royal are both set to take their chance for Doumen in the Grade Two Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock on Thursday.
Owned by JP McManus, Blue Canyon has only been seen once this term, when running a very creditable to second to No Refuge in the Ascot Hurdle at Windsor.
Millenium Royal, on the other hand, has been on the go since August after returning to the track following a long lay-off.
A Grade One victory at Auteuil has been followed with a second at the same track before a disappointing run in the Cleeve Hurdle after a mistake at the first.
"Both of my horses will run on Thursday," said Doumen.
"They both like soft conditions and it is an ideal race for them really.
"Both would have to run very well before we considered them for the World Hurdle and don’t forget that they would be coming up against Baracouda."