May 18, 2017
NEWCASTLE: May 18, 2017: KRIS Lees has changed gear on Guard Of Honour at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday in the hope it will help him get a clean start.
The talented three-year-old will race in winkers – and not blinkers – in the Benchmark 85 Handicap (1200m).
Guard Of Honour also was an acceptor for the Doomben meeting on Saturday, but Lees decided to keep him at home for the Sydney assignment.
The Northern Meteor colt lost all chance when slowly away in the Listed Mick Dittman Plate (1050m) at Doomben on April 22 at his last start.
In the circumstances, his effort to finish seventh to Tiyatrolani was full of merit.
“It’s a slight gear change, but hopefully the right one,” Lees said this afternoon.
“Our aim is to get him to jump on terms with the field so that he has every chance.”
Josh Parr will be a new rider for Guard Of Honour, who is one of the stable’s four acceptors at Rosehill.
The other trio – Rustic Melody (Koby Jennings), Knit ‘N’ Purl (Jay Ford) and Wahng Wah (Christian Reith) – all are scheduled to oppose each other in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m).
As with the Doomben Cup meeting in Brisbane, Lees is keeping a close watch on Sydney’s weather, with rain forecast.
“Rustic Melody will definitely run, but is likely to need this outing,” Lees said.
“Knit ‘N’ Purl is probably my pick with a much better draw, but just ahead of Wahng Way.
“Knit ‘N’ Purl will run really well if the track is no worse than slow, but Wahng Way has come back in great form this preparation (unbeaten from her last two starts).”
. Lees also has a number of acceptors at his home track meeting, but hasn’t decided whether The World Over (Andrew Gibbons) will contest the Maiden Plate (1400m) or be saved for a similar race over 1506m at Port Macquarie on Sunday.
“His last run was good, and he is looking for more ground,” Lees said.
Magic Millions Maiden placegetter Rhymes (Gibbons) resumes in the 3YO Fillies Maiden Plate (1200m), and has performed well in two recent barrier trials.
“She has drawn nicely and should run well, but this isn’t a bad field,” Lees said.
Lees has debutants Kandy (Jeff Penza) and One Invincible Cat (Gibbons) both contesting the 2YO Maiden Plate (900m), and another first starter Rock Tsar (Gibbons) lining up in the other division.
He also runs recent acquisition Sadhika (Gibbons) in the Benchmark 60 Handicap (1200m), after she scored at Tamworth on April 30 at her first start since joining the stable.
“It’s a step up in class, but she is ready for it,” Lees said.