One of the features of previous Christmas meetings at Kempton Park was what did French trainer Francois Doumen have in store for the King George VI Chase this year – we don’t see him much on these shores anymore but his five triumphs in the race bare testament to his training talent. Those five victories – just one behind the record of six wins in the race held by Paul Nicholls came via four different horses in the years between 1987 and 2000.
The first of those wins came via a horse called Nupsala who won the 1987 running of the event becoming the first French-trained winner of the race. It wasn’t until The Fellow became one of the seven back-to-back winners of the contest in 1991-92 that Doumen tasted further success in the race – The Fellow had been a well-beaten third in the 1990 race behind Desert Orchid and Toby Tobias but showed plenty of promise that came to fruition in the two following years. Those following the King George chase betting should remember this.
Algan in 1994 was the next horse off the Doumen King George production line beating Monsieur Le Cure in his first race away from France, he was sent off a 16-1 chance on that occasion with his better fancied and more well-known stablemate The Fellow being pulled-up after making mistakes. Algan had one further attempt in the race when it was moved to Sandown to accommodate rebuilding work at Kempton, but he never showed anything and was well beaten behind the flying grey One Man.
The final winner in the Francois Doumen collection of King George triumphs came with First Gold in 2000. Again First Gold was winning the race on his first start outside of France and such was Doumen’s reputation by now that he was only sent off as the 5/2 second favourite and he blitzed a competitive field by ten lengths with Florida Pearl his nearest pursuer. Those looking at Betfair online need to remember this.
Doumen after that triumph never had another success in the race and became a less frequent visitor to these shores as he concentrated more and more on the flat code. However you can’t take away his King George record as he stands second on the all-time list with five triumphs in the race and added some Gallic verve and flair to the Christmas extravaganza.