Mar 01, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, March 1, 2018: DUAL Group 1 winner Prized Icon takes on Winx at Royal Randwick on Saturday – and his performance will largely determine whether he backs up a week later in the Australian Cup.
Whilst Kris Lees isn’t naïve enough to declare his four-year-old can upset the glamour mare in the $600,000 Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), he shares market assessors’ view that he can at least play “second fiddle’ at her resumption.
Understandably, Winx is the raging hot $1.06 favourite to extend her winning sequence to 23 and clinch a record-equalling 16th Group 1, with Prized Icon the $12 second favorite.
TAB.com.au has introduced a “Winx out” market as an alternative, and posted Prized Icon (Glyn Schofield) as the $1.85 favorite.
Fitter for two excellent runs since joining Lees’ team, Prized Icon gets to a distance at which he clinched the first of his two Group 1 victories (the 2016 Champagne Stakes); the other being the 2500m Victoria Derby at Flemington the same year.
“I’m really pleased with his progress, and looking forward to taking him to the races on Saturday,” Lees said this afternoon.
“I’m sure he will run well. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t at least run second to Winx.”
As for Saturday week’s $1.5m Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington, Lees is waiting until after Saturday.
“Prized Icon would have to perform up to expectations in the Chipping Norton, and then pull up really well,” he said.
Lees is also aware that Prized Icon’s two Group 1 triumphs have come on a week’s back-up (when prepared by James Cummings).
Former New Zealander Aide Memoire (Jason Collett) and Danish Twist (Schofield) are acceptors for the Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m), with the latter a definite starter enroute to the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 17.
“I’ll wait as late as possible with Aide Memoire to see how the track is,” Lees said. “If she doesn’t line up on Saturday, I’ll probably keep her for the Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) next Friday, in which Sound Proposition is definitely running.
“Danish Twist ran really well first-up at Warwick Farm, and has trained on well. She should be very competitive.”
Artlee (Brenton Avdulla) lines up in the Liverpool City Cup (1300m), and his trainer is expecting a good performance.
“His sectional times between the 600m to 200m first-up at Warwick Farm were excellent, and he was in the worst ground on the inside in the straight,” Lees said. “He can definitely improve, but may just need another run after a long layoff.”
Jeff Lloyd rides Yulong Xingsheng in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m), and the filly’s performance will determine autumn plans.
“This race will tell us if she is up to the better fillies, or whether we need to come back a peg or two,” Lees said. “She was ridden too forward first-up.”
Star Reflection (Hugh Bowman) and Raiden (Avdulla) represent the stable in the Benchmark 85 Handicap (1200m).
“Star Reflection is a sneaky chance in spite of the outside draw, especially if there is more rain,” Lees said.
“Raiden can definitely figure in the finish if he gets the right breaks.
“He will most likely go on to the Provincial Championships qualifier (1200m) at Gosford on March 17.”
Raiden is also an acceptor for Canterbury tomorrow night, but Lees is favouring a Randwick start.
Hammoon Dream (1250m Benchmark 70 Handicap) and Bold Chance (1100m Benchmark 73 Handicap) will be in action at Canterbury, and both have good chances.
“Hammoon Dream ran well in the Walcha Cup and will be better suited coming back to this trip, whilst Bold Chance won at Canterbury at his last start and has kept improving,” Lees said.
Stablemates Slow Pace and All Summer Long are Doomben acceptors on Saturday, and Lees arranged for talented Sydney apprentice Jean Van Overmeire to head north to ride the pair.
Slow Pace and All Summer Long were sent to Queensland a week ago, but missed Doomben engagements last Saturday when heavy rain stopped the meeting going ahead.