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Downbeat Doumen lacks firepower for Festival tilt

Francois Doumen is set to be an absentee from this year's Cheltenham Festival as he lacks the equine firepower.

The Frenchman has enjoyed unprecedented success at the world's greatest jumps meeting, winning the Gold Cup, the Triumph Hurdle and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle over the years.

His raids across the Channel have been infrequent this season.

Spunk impressed when making a winning British debut at Sandown in December, while Doctor Pat was scratched from two Festival races on Monday after being well-beaten at Haydock last weekend.

"I'm afraid you can't just replace horses like Baracouda, The Fellow and First Gold," said Doumen.

"I'm not sure I will have anything this year. I think Spunk is going to be a good horse but it would be asking too much for him to run at Cheltenham."

Derg looks likely to chase a Spirit three-in-a-row

Lough Derg appears set to chase an incredible third consecutive victory in the totesport.com National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on Sunday.

William Frewen's gelding has an avid following among jumping fans, largely due to his ability to come back to win races from the most unpromising positions.

He raised the roof at the Sussex track 12 months ago under Tom Scudamore, fighting back to deprive Pierrot Lunaire in a thrilling finish and completed in similar style in 2008.

But while Lough Derg had hit form after a slow start last season, this time around his performances have been lacklustre and he was only fifth at Haydock over the weekend.

"I'm not quite sure if he'll run just yet -- I have still got to speak to the owner -- but I know he is keen to try to win the race for a third time," said trainer David Pipe.