King George Gold for Doumen.
Francois Doumen further expanded the British section of his fan club when First Gold sealed the 50th running of the Pertemps King George VI Chase at Kempton Park yesterday in spectacular fashion.
The 5-2 second-favourite, making his British debut, travelled sweetly throughout, jumped like an old hand and answered every demand made of him by his jockey.
The man in question, the trainer's son Thierry, was only eight when Nupsala gave the family their first success in the race back in 1987.
But his presence in the saddle for his father's record-equalling fifth success in this race gave the victory a special feel and, despite the bitter cold, emotions were running high in the winner's enclosure.
Thierry said: 'This is so special I can't say. We work well together. We don't argue about anything, we are a great team, things are going great for us both.'
Edredon Bleu, trying three miles for the first time, cut out the early running, followed closely by Beau, See More Business and First Gold.
Down the back straight with six fences to jump, Edredon Bleu was still going nicely in front but, as his stamina quickly gave way, First Gold suddenly seemed to be going best of all.
See More Business, the 6-4 favourite seeking a third race triumph, had been travelling well enough but failed to jump with much verve and, asked for his effort by Mick Fitzgerald, found precious little for pressure.
Florida Pearl, after an early mistake, made ground from the rear division but, despite challenging hard, never looked a threat to the winner, whose prodigious leap at the second-last fence left the bumper crowd gasping.
Florida Pearl (11-2) stayed on well to finish second, beaten ten lengths, with Bellator (33-1) a further 11 lengths adrift in third.
The Gold Cup sponsors - the Tote - made First Gold 2-1 favourite for top honours at Cheltenham in March.
Doumen snr had tried not to be over-confident. He said: 'If you start saying he's a good horse then they say you are bullish. Before the race I was over-confident, he is such a good horse, he jumps so well, he goes when you ask him to, he's got the power.
'I honestly thought it was a better performance than anything he has done in France.'
However, the decision as to whether First Gold will run at Cheltenham remains with his owner, the Marquesa de Moratalia.
The trainer said: 'I have just phoned her and she's obviously delighted. She was very sorry not to be able to be here but she needs to watch the race and get the feeling herself.
'I will not say that we will go for the Gold Cup before she says it herself. She is not reluctant but she must make the choice.
'In March it will be a bog at Auteuil so we will either go there or do nothing but he will definitely have a break now.'
Florida Pearl's trainer Willie Mullins said: 'He kept galloping and if the winner hadn't been there, he would have been a good winner.
'There are no excuses, we just met a better horse on the day.'
See More Business trailed home in fifth and Fitzgerald said: 'He got sloppy and was missing every second fence. The reason he couldn't dominate was that he was making mistakes.'
The Doumen clan's only other runner of the day, Facts Not Fiction, triumped in the closing Pertemps Catering Handicap Hurdle.
Thierry Doumen and First Gold ;eave the field trailing on their way to victory in the Pertemps King George VI Chase at Kempton Park yesterdayPicture/ALLSPORT
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Dec 27, 2000|
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