Mar 01, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, March 1, 2018: KRIS Lees begins another Provincial Championships campaign at Wyong on Saturday, and has named Just Dreaming the pick of his four runners.
Lees’ stable jockeys Aaron Bullock and Andrew Gibbons will ride Just Dreaming and Japanese import Hallelujah Boy respectively, whilst Mitchell Bell partners Kool Vinnie and Katelyn Mallyon has been booked for Nationality.
Having finished second (with Electric Power) in the inaugural 2015 Provincial Final at Royal Randwick, Lees then went one better in 2016 when Danish Twist nabbed stablemate Powerline on the post to provide him with a quinella after he had qualified a remarkable eight of the 15 starters.
Though he won the Newcastle qualifier last year with Clevedon Bay, he missed out on final honours with only two runners, pointing out heavy tracks through the series didn’t help his cause.
He is again targeting the 2018 series, with yesterday’s Rosehill Gardens winners Waimea Bay and Reach For Heaven and other recent Sydney midweek winners Raiden and Serene Miss included in a strong team.
Saturday’s $150,000 Wyong heat to be run over 1350m gives the three placegetters an automatic spot in the 1400m final – worth a record $500,000 – at Randwick on April 14 during The Championships.
“With good Sydney form behind her, Just Dreaming would have to be the pick of my runners on Saturday,” Lees said this afternoon.
“We have aimed her at the series, and she has pleased with how she has come on since her recent excellent first-up Sydney run.”
Just Dreaming, a model of consistency, has won five of her 14 starts and been placed in another five. She caught the eye on resumption when fifth to Faraway Town in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 15, and drops back to a Class 5 event at set weights.
Kool Vinnie and Hallelujah Boy have both drawn awkwardly. Kool Vinnie was a game second to Virgilio at the Canterbury night meeting on February 26 after winning there two starts earlier over 1250m.
Hallelujah Boy raced only twice for his new trainer last year after arriving from Japan, and was rested after finishing fourth to Jaminzah in a 1400m Benchmark 80 Handicap at Warwick Farm on October 2.
Lightly-raced Nationality, a half-brother to Lees’ former star mare Samantha Miss, won twice on his home track (firstly on the Beaumont circuit and then on the course proper) before finishing fifth to Oriental Runner in a Benchmark 75 Handicap (1250m) at Canterbury on February 21.
Pierro three-year-old Furore is likely to miss a Canterbury engagement tomorrow night to be reserved for the Wyong fixture.
“I haven’t totally decided, but am leaning toward Wyong,” Lees said.
Aaron Bullock has been booked for Furore, who will be attempting to stretch his winning sequence to four in the Benchmark 71 Handicap (2100m); the longest distance he has so far attempted.