Feb 01, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, February 1, 2018: KRIS Lees is resigned to Prized Icon lining up against Winx when the champion mare returns to racing at Royal Randwick on February 17.
The 2016 Victoria Derby winner made a brilliant opening to his first campaign for his new trainer when second to Lanciato(to whom he conceded 7kg) in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday.
“He pulled up well and has done well this week, and the Apollo Stakes is really the next suitable race for him,” Lees said this afternoon.
“We’ll probably have to take on the mare (Winx), but it will give Prized Icon a nice break of three weeks between runs.”
The $250,000 Group 2 Apollo (1400m) is run at weight-for-age and headlines the February 17 program.
Lees earlier this week nominated both Prized Icon and Gosford Gold Cup winner Singing for the $1.5m Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 10.
Meanwhile, Lees has opted for blinkers on Everard in tomorrow night’s 2YO Maiden Plate (1250m) at Canterbury.
Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire’s 3kg claim will bring the Sebring filly in with only 52kg, and she has drawn nicely in the field of seven.
Everard, a member of Joe O’Neill’s Prime Thoroughbreds’ team, was an eye-catching third on debut to Quackerjack and Secret Lady over 1100m at Randwick on December 30, but then never figured when sixth to another debutant Sandbar over 1200m at Canterbury on January 19.
“I’m sure the blinkers will help her take a more prominent position this time,” Lees said.
“This will probably be her last run this preparation.”
Lees also runs Feelin The Love, Star Reflection and Not Surprising at Canterbury, but is yet to commit Reach For Heaven (Kerrin McEvoy) to a start in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1250m).
Reach For Heaven ran a terrific race on resumption when narrowly beaten by Tip Top in a Benchmark 79 Handicap (1200m) at Randwick on January 13.
“It could be a bit tricky from an awkward gate at Canterbury with a big weight (59.5kg),” Lees said. “I’ll make a final decision in the morning.”
Van Overmeire also partners Feelin The Love in the Benchmark 75 Handicap (1550m). The Savabeel mare appreciated the soft ground when successful last time out for Brenton Avdulla in a Benchmark 71 Handicap (1550m) at a Canterbury midweek meeting on January 10.
Five of Feelin The Love’s seven wins have been on wet tracks.
“She probably won’t get those conditions again tomorrow night, but she is in good order and the claim certainly helps,” Lees said.
Star Reflection tackles the Benchmark 89 Handicap (1200m), and apprentice Rachel King’s 1.5kg claim lessens her weight to 51.5kg.
The mare has been freshened since taking on Listed company in the $125,000 Nudgee Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on December 30 when a $61 chance.
Star Reflection has been a very consistent mare, winning five and placing 10 times from 23 starts so far.
“This isn’t an easy assignment either, but she is drawn well and isn’t out of it by any means with the light weight,” Lees said.
Not Surprising was the medium of good support at lengthy odds when she resumed at the Gold Coast Magic Millions meeting on January 13, finishing fourth to Zafina in the Magic Millions Country Cup (1200m) at the Gold Coast on January 13.
“She drew poorly that day, and would have gone close to winning with a soft draw,” Lees said. “She was little more than a length from the winner.”
Brenton Avdulla rides Not Surprising, another Prime Thoroughbreds representative, in the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1100m) against her own sex.