Apr 10, 2015
NEWCASTLE: Friday, April 10, 2015: KRIS Lees will have much to thank rival trainer John O’Shea for if he wins tomorrow’s $1m ATC Oaks at Randwick with Rustic Melody.
Lees and a group of friends from Newcastle Souths Rugby League Club race Rustic Melody on lease – a move arranged by O’Shea.
A daughter of Snitzel from the well-performed Queensland mare Laurinel Argie – who numbered the 2003 Prime Minister’s Cup (2400m) at the Gold Coast amongst her 11 wins – Rustic Melody fetched $60,000 at the 2013 Magic Millions yearling sales.
But she did not race under O’Shea’s banner.
“When John got the job as head trainer at Darley, he had to disperse the horses he had at Randwick to other trainers,” Lees said today.
“This Snitzel filly hadn’t been tried, and he asked me if I might like her. I went and had a look and decided to take her, then finalised a lease with Rustic Melody’s breeder Mr Kirkwood and put my Souths mates in her as well.
“It is a terrific thrill to get her into a fillies’ classic at virtually only her second racing preparation.”
Rustic Melody, after a runaway Scone victory, clinched an Oaks start with a gallant second to all-the-way winner Candelara in Monday’s Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.
‘Whilst it is a short back-up only five days later, I’m not concerned,” Lees said.
“They have the same time frame from the Wakeful Stakes to the Oaks in Melbourne, and this filly has put on 1kg since Monday’s race.
“Recent form always tells a tale in fillies’ classics, and our filly certainly fits that category.
“I feel she has got a really good place chance. Obviously, a win would be a huge bonus.”
Rustic Melody impressed at only her second start when she won a 1500m Maiden at $11 at last September’s Newcastle spring carnival.
Her rider was Brenton Avdulla, who was reunited with her in the Adrian Knox and has the Oaks mount tomorrow.
And ironically, when she won her first race at Newcastle, John O’Shea prepared the $3.25 beaten favourite Delphic, who finished fourth.
No doubt, though, he will be one of the first to congratulate Lees if Rustic Melody wins the Oaks.