Feb 01, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, February 1, 2018: IT’S a case of leaving nothing to chance!
Blinkers are going on Sunreel at Newcastle on Saturday as Kris Lees views a bigger target in town a week later.
The Dundeel filly, who races in the Australian Bloodstock colours, made a strong debut when a late closing second to Sunfighter in a 2YO Handicap (1100m) at Wyong on January 21, earning $3740.
This time, she is back on her home track taking on older horses in the Maiden Plate (900m), with Andrew Gibbons again in the saddle.
“Coming back to 900m isn’t suitable, but we’re trying to get her into the field for the Inglis Classic at Randwick the following Saturday,” Lees explained this afternoon.
“She might make the field anyway, but we don’t want to take the risk of missing out and that’s why she is running here this Saturday.
“I’m sure both the blinkers and bigger track will help her, especially racing against older horses.”
Being a two-year-old, Sunreel comes into Saturday’s race with the limit weight (54kg).
Lees is no stranger to winning the Inglis Classic, with the “girls”. He was successful at Rosehill Gardens in 2006 with Absolutelyfabulous (also ran third with Boncoeur that year) and again in 2016 with Twist Tops at Randwick.
Lees holds a strong hand at the Newcastle meeting, where the rail is in the TRUE position. He also runs recent winners Nationality and Grasslands in respective divisions of the Class 2 Handicap (1200m), and Turnberry in the Benchmark 71 Handicap (1400m). Aaron Bullock rides all three.
Nationality, China Horse Club’s half-brother to Samantha Miss, made an impressive return on the Beaumont track on January 20, easily winning an 1150m Maiden at only his second start.
“He is jumping a class, but it’s keeping him on his home track to give him further experience experience,” Lees said.
“Nationality has trained on strongly, and I’m sure he will be hard to beat.”
Grasslands, who also races in the China Horse Club colors, resumed to clinch her second victory in a Class 1 Handicap (1100m) at Gosford on January 18.
“She probably didn’t beat a strong lot that day, but keeps improving,” Lees said.
Three-year-old Turnberry has won two of his three starts, and tackles 1400m first-up on the back of recent trials on the Beaumont track and at Wyong.
“He won over 1400m at Scone last preparation when having his first start,” Lees pointed out. “He is a Snitzel who is going to get over ground.”
Turnberry, raced by a mainly New Zealand-based syndicate which includes Lucia Valentina’s owner Lib Petagna, hasn’t raced since winning a Benchmark 60 Handicap (1600m) at Wyong last October.
Lees won his 84th race of the current season at Muswellbrook today with well-bred debutant Road To Heaven (a High Chaparral three-year-old from 2011 SA Oaks and 2012 Brisbane Cup winner and that year’s Caulfield Cup placegetter Lights Of Heaven).
Queensland owners Ron and Judi Wanless also raced eight-times winner Lights Of Heaven, a Zabeel mare.
Lees is seeking to further increase this season’s tally (he won 161 races last season) with representatives at Canterbury tomorrow night and Newcastle and Rosehill on Saturday.
His definite Rosehill runners are Admiral Jello (apprentice Jean Van Overmeire, 1500m Benchmark 90 Handicap) and High Opinion (Tim Clark, 2000m Benchmark 81 Handicap), whilst Villa Carlotta is unlikely to resume in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) unless there is rain.
“Admiral Jello has won first-up before, but in weaker company,” Lees said. “Still, I’m confident he is set for another good preparation.”
Lees will have specific instructions for Clark on High Opinion. After two good Canterbury placings, High Opinion was luckless when fifth to Carzoff over 2000m at Randwick on January 20.
“High Opinion has drawn well enough, and I want Tim to use the alley and position him closer to the lead,” Lees said.