Oct 12, 2017
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, October 12, 2017: KRIS Lees has declared his TAB The Everest hope Clearly Innocent “as good as I have ever had him”.
And, after consultation with jockey Hugh Bowman, he has opted to make an important gear change on the six-year-old for Saturday’s $10m feature at Royal Randwick.
Lees is putting winkers on Clearly Innocent, and this morning outlined the reasons behind the decision.
“I discussed it with Hugh and we both feel the winkers hopefully will enable Clearly Innocent to race a bit more forward and stay on the bridle for longer,” he said.
“He has worked in winkers, and worked really well. In fairness, he has also worked just as well without them.
“Obviously, with such huge prizemoney, it’s going to be a tough race to win and any little edge we can get just might make the difference.”
Clearly Innocent, who began his career at Scone with Greg Bennett, joined Lees’ stable earlier in the year when his trainer decided to move to Queensland to take up a new position (which he later relinquished).
The gelding has had five starts for Lees, for two wins – the Listed Luskin Star Stakes at the Scone carnival and a fortnight later the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup at Eagle Farm – and two thirds (including the Group 1 1350m Stradbroke Handicap at Doomben when he drew awkwardly and came from a near impossible position on the home turn).
“We have aimed Clearly Innocent at The Everest for the last few months in the hope of securing a slot with him,” Lees said.
“He is definitely as good as I have ever had him.”
Both the Luskin Star (which Clearly Innocent has won for the past two years) and Kingsford-Smith Cup were both run at 1300m, and Lees understandably would have preferred Saturday’s race to have been at that distance or even 1400m.
“But it is what it is, hence putting winkers on him,” he said. “I’m sure they won’t hurt him.”
Clearly Innocent galloped strongly under restraint wide out on the Broadmeadow course proper on Tuesday morning, and Lees has been thrilled with his progress since his excellent first-up third (without getting a lot of room near the inside) in the Group 2 wfa Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on September 30.
Whilst Clearly Innocent has won once from five first-up starts, his second-up record is so much better with two wins and a placing from four attempts.