Mar 08, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, March 8, 2018: KRIS Lees is hoping to both make it third time lucky and turn the clock back at Canberra’s biggest meeting of the year on Sunday. Lees has had only two starters in the nation’s capital – and they were in the last two runnings of the Listed Canberra Cup (2000m). Olympic Academy ran seventh to Dark Eyes last year, and Award Season ran fifth to Hippopus the previous year. He indicated this afternoon he was leaning toward starting dual venue acceptor Admiral Jello (Jason Collett) in Sunday’s $200,000 Cup – a race his late father Max won in 1994 with Nassabidi. Admiral Jello also is an acceptor for Saturday’s Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m) with stablemate Singing. “I think I’ll split them up, and send Admiral Jello to Canberra,” Lees said. “He is getting better with each run, and looks really well suited there, especially from a soft draw.” Admiral Jello has taken improvement from two runs this preparation; the latest when seventh to More Energy in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 24. Lees, with 103 winners already this season and prizemoney of just over $4m earned by his horses, is sending three horses to Canberra. He starts Guard Of Honour (Hugh Bowman) in the 1000m Quality and lightly-raced three-year-old Waimea Bay (Collett) in the $130,000 Listed Canberra Guineas (1600m). “Guard Of Honour hasn’t won in town since September, 2016 (when a three-year-old against his own age) but the handicapper doesn’t drop his weight,” Lees said, referring to the gelding’s 58kg second topweight. “I’m trying to place him to get him back into the winning list. “Waimea Bay keeps taking the next step and the Guineas looks a nice race for her.” The All Too Hard three-year-old has won three of her six starts and graduated to midweek city company by scoring at Rosehill Gardens on February 28 in a 1400m Benchmark 73 Handicap against her own sex.
Lees continues his Provincial Championships assault with four runners in Saturday’s second $150,000 qualifier at Hawkesbury. He runs Reach For Heaven (Andrew Gibbons), Hallelujah Boy (Noel Callow), Bastia (Aaron Bullock) and Clevanicc (Jeff Penza). Last-start Rosehill winner Reach For Heaven (currently $4.60) is the highest rated of Lees’ foursome, and the trainer feels he is his best chance. Just Dreaming became his first qualifier for the $500,000 final at Randwick on April 14 by impressively win last Saturday’s opening Wyong heat. Lees’ other Hawkesbury representative is Progression (Gibbons) in the Class 1 Handicap (1100m). Progression, another All Too Hard three-year-old, has started only twice and is resuming. She hasn’t raced since winning a 3YO Maiden (1000m) at Wyong on October 22 last. Progression has been placed in both trials – 800m on the Beaumont track on February 14 and 1000m at Gosford a fortnight later (finishing ahead of stablemate and thrice Group 1 winners Le Romain).