May 21, 2017
NEWCASTLE: Sunday, May 21, 2017: DOOMBEN Cup winner Sense Of Occasion is returning home for a short break before embarking on a spring campaign in search of further Group 1 glory.
Kris Lees returned from Queensland today and confirmed the gelding would not race again during the winter carnival.
“We planned two races for him there (the Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast and the Doomben Cup) and that’s it for now,” Lees said.
“Sense Of Occasion will come home and have a break at Ellalong Farm,” Lees said.
“But it won’t be a long spell. I’ll keep him in light work at the farm before bringing him back to our Newcastle stables and getting him ready for the spring.”
Sense Of Occasion’s overpowering finish to land yesterday’s $650,000 wfa Doomben Cup (2000m) was Lees’ 13th Group 1 success and for the first time his third at racing’s elite level in a season.
He won both the Cantala Stakes at Flemington and Canterbury Stakes at Royal Randwick with Le Romain earlier this season.
He had twice previously won two Group 1s in a single racing year (Samantha Miss’ Flight Stakes and VRC Oaks in 2008) and Le Romain (Randwick Guineas) and Lucia Valentina (Queen Elizabeth Stakes) last year.
Lees has done a tremendous job since taking over Sense Of Occasion's preparation last year. He has given the gelding 11 starts – and only once has he failed to earn prizemoney, when a luckless sixth to It’s Somewhat in the Group 2 HollindaleStakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast a fortnight ago.
His three wins (Premier’s Cup, Villiers Stakes and Doomben Cup) coupled with three placings, three fourths and a fifth have netted $1,385,190.
Lees is eyeing Group 1 spring features such as the Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on September 30, and then the Cantala Stakes (1600m) and Emirates (formerly Mackinnon) Stakes (2000m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup carnival.
“We may have a crack at the Epsom first-up with Sense Of Occasion as we did with him in the Villiers last December and then the Doncaster Mile,” Lees said.
“But I will first have to have a closer look at the programs.”
Yesterday’s Doomben Cup triumph capped an outstanding season for Sense Of Occasion, who brilliantly won the Group 2 Villiers (1600m) at Randwick last December before finishing third on consecutive Saturdays in both the $3m Doncaster Mile (to It’s Somewhat) and $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (to Winx) in April during The Championships.
Stablemate Clearly Innocent will be floated to the Gold Coast on Wednesday night to contest Saturday’s $700,000 Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm enroute to the $1.5m Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) there on June 10.
Clearly Innocent has burst into Stradbroke betting since his dominant Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) victory at the Scone Cup carnival on May 13; the second year in a row he has won the race.