Feb 15, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, February 15, 2018: KRIS Lees says Group 1 winner Clearly Innocent is not fully wound up for the launch of his autumn campaign at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Lees has chosen Jason Collett to ride Clearly Innocent for the first time, in the $150,000 Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) – a race he won last year with then resuming thrice Group 1 winner Le Romain (61kg).
With ambitions of having a shot at the $3m Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick on April 7 during The Championships with the six-year-old, he hasn’t pushed him and has given him only one trial prior to his resumption.
Clearly Innocent, who has 60.5kg topweight, was well back throughout and finished seventh to stablemate Artlee (beaten first-up after a long layoff at Warwick Farm last Saturday) over 845m at Wyong on January 16.
He hasn’t raced since finishing an excellent fifth to The Everest winner Redzel in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington last November during the Melbourne Cup carnival.
Clearly Innocent has won once (that was at his first start in a Scone Maiden in August, 2015) from five first-up starts, and whilst Lees would never rule a good horse such as he out of contention, he is adamant the gelding will take improvement from the Southern Cross.
“I want to see him hitting the line nicely, and we’ll probably run him again three weeks later in the 1300m Canterbury Stakes (which Le Romain also won last year) at Randwick on March 10,” he said.
“Now that he’s getting older, I feel he will be better suited as his distances increase. We’ll give him every chance to warrant a start in the Doncaster.”
Stablemate Prized Icon (Glyn Schofield) has his second run for Lees in Saturday’s $250,000 Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m), and his trainer is delighted with his progress.
“He is in really good order,” Lees said. “The only drawback might be that he is staying at 1400m, but he’s going well.”
Prized Icon, the 2016 Victoria Derby (2500m) winner for James Cummings, ran an excellent first-up second to Lanciato(conceding 7kg) in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill three weeks ago.
“At this stage, I’ll run him again in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick in a fortnight (against champion mare Winx) and then we’ll have a better idea of where we heading him with him this autumn.”
Prized Icon has been entered for the $1.5m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington (only a week after the Chipping Norton) along with the Doncaster Mile and $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 14.
Lees is confident recent impressive Rosehill winner High Opinion will be hard to beat again, in the Benchmark 86 Handicap (2000m).
“He has trained on well; I’m sure he is going to be competitive again,” he said.
Lees has three runners – Aide Memoire (TyeAngland), Zestful (Collett) and Just Dreaming (apprentice Rachel King) in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m).
“Aide Memoire is a well-performed New Zealander having her first start for me. She is not a big mare, is better on wet ground, and will benefit from this race.
“Zestful won this race last year but is going to need luck from the outside draw, whilst Just Dreaming is very genuine but perhaps a little outgraded.
“I have decided to take blinkers off her on Saturday, but may put them back on at a later date.”
Lees has dual representatives – Yulong Xingsheng (Angland) and Sasso Corbaro (Brenton Avdulla) in the $200,000 Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m).
“Both are very nice fillies. Yulong Xingsheng scored at Sandown in Listed company over 1400m at the end of the Melbourne spring carnival and is drawn best, but I have a slight preference for Sasso Corbaro,who I feel is better suited at the 1200m.
“She wasn’t disgraced when sixth from an awkward draw in the Magic Millions Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast last month, and is back in distance and against her own sex.”
Lees has not yet confirmed Reach For Heaven (Collett) as a certain starter in the Benchmark 85 Handicap (1200m). He has drawn near the outside in a big field.