Aug 10, 2017
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, August 10, 2017: KRIS Lees has sounded a note of caution in regard to Zestful’s return at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Zestful has an unbeaten first-up record from three previous attempts, and resumes in the Benchmark 94 Handicap (1100m).
But whilst her trainer is expecting her to race well, he made a couple of pertinent points when assessing her prospects.
“We know she has a terrific fresh record, but all those first-up wins were in weaker class,” Lees said.
“This is a different level, and she is an older mare now and has 60.5kg.”
Zestful’s first-up victories were in Maiden company and then Benchmark 65 and 75 Handicaps.
Brenton Avdulla, back from a short break, partners the six-year-old mare who has won five of her 14 starts.
Zestful has not raced since finishing 10th to Secret Agenda in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick in April during The Championships.
Lees has given her two recent 1000m trials in preparation for her resumption. She ran third to stablemate Le Romain on the Beaumont track on July 18 and then fourth to another stablemate Artlee at Gosford on August 2, and wasn’t pushed out on either occasion.
In an unusually quiet Saturday for Leesfollowing a Randwick double last Saturday (including the Group 2 Missile Stakes quinella), he has only one representative at Rosehill and one each at Newcastle and Doomben.
And his Newcastle hope is not yet guaranteed a start, and needs another scratching to make the field in the Fillies and Mares Maiden Handicap(1200m).
With the rail out 10m, only 10 horses can run and Danubian(Andrew Gibbons) is second emergency, though there has already been one withdrawal (Dancers).
Danubian, a three-year-old Foxwedge filly, raced only twice last season and ran fourth in an 800m trial aainst her own sex on the Beaumont track on July 18.
“I’m definitely giving her a chance if she gets a start,” Lees said. “I thought she trialled okay last month.”
Navua Mist has been sent to Queensland overnight to attempt to clinch a hat-trick at Doomben on Saturday.
Michael Cahill rides her in the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1050m) against her own sex, and she has drawn nicely (barrier four in a field of 13) with the rail 6m out.
The five-year-old mare has scored over 1100m at her last two starts at Scone, on July 14 and 24.
“It’s a good opportunity to get a city win with her, and the favourable gate is important at Doomben with the rail out,” Lees said.