Oct 30, 2016
NEWCASTLE: Sunday, October 30, 2016: KRIS Lees celebrated his 11th Group 1 success in Melbourne last night, and immediately set his sights on another with Le Romain in the autumn.
In confirming the brilliant four-year-old has concluded his spring campaign, Lees said he would be set for the Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick during The Championships.
And a trip overseas to Hong Kong at the end of next year for the International Mile at Sha Tin is also on the cards if his form continues to warrant it.
Next year’s renewal of the Doncaster - Australia’s greatest “mile” - is worth $3m and will be run on April 1 on the opening day of The Championships.
Le Romain ($15), given a flawless ride by Hugh Bowman, landed his second success at racing’s elite level in yesterday’s $1m Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
Earlier in the year as a three-year-old, he had also been sent out at good odds ($21) when he upset hotpot Press Statement in the $1m Randwick Guineas over the Doncaster course.
Ironically, Bowman was on the receiving end that day as he rode $1.30 favorite Press Statement. Christian Reith was Le Romain’s rider.
Yesterday’s victory lifted Le Romain’s stake earnings to just over $1.5m from only 13 starts. In fact, the Hard Spun gelding has missed a place only twice; when seventh in Tarzino’s Rosehill Guineas in the autumn at his first 2000m attempt (after being galloped on in the straight) and then when fifth to Hauraki in the Randwick Epsom (1600m) on October 1 after having to cart the field up to tearaway leader Fabrizio.
Even then, Le Romain finished just over a length from the winner and his trainer gave him time to recover and had him ready for yesterday’s assignment.
He also put winkers on the gelding for the first time, believing they would help him focus at his Melbourne debut.
Lees resisted any temptation to keep his Cantala victor in work for Saturday’s $2m Group 1 wfa Emirates Stakes (2000m) – formerly Mackinnon Stakes – on the final day of the Flemington carnival.
“He has done his job, and will go for a break,” he said from Melbourne this morning.
“There’s no point trying him again at 2000m at this stage when he is so effective at 1600m. The Mackinnon would have been an afterthought, anyway.”
Le Romain was the third of Lees’ 11 Group 1 successes at Flemington; the others being Samantha Miss (2008 VRC Crown Oaks) and Lucia Valentina (2014 Turnbull Stakes).
Bowman also was aboard Samantha Miss, whilst Kerrin McEvoy rode Lucia Valentina.
Stablemate Danish Twist ($11), a luckless ninth to I Am A Star in yesterday’s $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic on the Flemington card, also has concluded her three-race spring campaign.
“I had always planned to give her only a light preparation,” Lees said. “She will have a break and come back for the autumn in Sydney.”
The stewards’ report sums up the mare’s troubled passage in the Myer. It read: “Danish Twist was unbalanced at the start when contacted by Serene Majesty. She was held up rounding the home turn and unable to obtain clear running until passing the 100m. Over the concluding stages, she raced in restricted room.”
Lees will be hoping for better fortune with another mare, Onemorezeta, in Tuesday’s $200,000 Group 3 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (1400m) on the Melbourne Cup program.
Damien Oliver rides Onemorezeta, who has drawn favourably and is fitter for a promising first-up fifth to Egyptian Symbol in the Group 3 Nivison (1200m) at Randwick on October 15.
Onemorezeta was runner-up to Danish Twist in the Group 3 Dark Jewel Classic over 400m at the Scone Cup carnival in May.