Icon Chasing The Ajax Prize

Mar 13, 2018

NEWCASTLE: Tuesday, March 13, 2018: KRIS Lees will take the shorter route with Prized Icon when the Golden Slipper Festival begins at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Lees nominated the Doncaster Mile aspirant for both the $200,000 Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) and $350,000 Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m).

He has opted for the former even though there is a considerable difference in prizemoney.

“I did think about stepping him up to the 2000m, but decided to run in the Ajax. Glyn Schofield will ride him.”

Prized Icon has run well at all three starts since joining Lees’ team (placed in two of them), and will not have Winx to contend with this weekend.

The dual Group 1 winner tried valiantly, but like many before him, had to play “second fiddle” to the champion mare in the $600,000 Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on March 3.

Lees gave some thought to backing up Prized Icon in last Saturday’s $1.5m Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington before deciding to keep him at home and concentrate on the $3m Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick on April 7.

He also nominated topweight Clearly Innocent (59.5kg) for the Ajax – for which the winner is exempt from Doncaster ballot – but is relying on Prized Icon (58kg).

Lees is banking on ruling Provincial Championships favourite Just Dreaming making the field for Saturday’s $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill, when acceptances are taken in the morning.

With 51kg, she is equal 19th with three others, and 20 can start in the fillies and mares’ feature.

Lees has booked apprentice Rachel King, who has a good record on Just Dreaming, and will have three representatives if she gets into the field. Aide Memoire (54kg, Jason Collett) and last year’s placegetter Danish Twist (53kg, Tim Clark) are already guaranteed spots in the lineup.

Lees will have three definite runners in Saturday’s third $150,000 qualifier of the Provincial Championships at Gosford.

He nominated six horses, and has named Bold Chance (57.5kg), Raiden (56kg) and Serene Miss (55.5kg) as certain starters. All are recent Sydney winners.

Lees has already qualified Wyong heat winner Just Dreaming and last Saturday’s Hawkesbury third Bastia for the $500,000 1400m final at Randwick on April 14.

Last Saturday’s Randwick winner Karavali will start next in the Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m) against her own sex at Rosehill on Saturday week (Golden Slipper day), whilst Lees has not yet confirmed the next appearance for stablemate Sugar Bella, responsible for a sizzling last to first performance on the same Randwick program.

“I’m in no hurry to get her back to the races,” he said. “I may nominate her for Rosehill on Saturday week, but there’s no certainty she will run.”

Sugar Bella extended her unbeaten sequence to four since joining Lees, and her Group 3 Wenona Girl Quality (1200m) victory ruled her out of the Provincial Championships series.

Guard Of Honour, who demoralised his opposition in last Sunday’s Camarena Quality (1000m), may be nominated for the $700,000 Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) on Saturday week’s Golden Slipper card.

“There’s not many suitable 1000m races around for him, so I might throw in an entry for The Galaxy and see how the field comes up,” Lees said.

“He did at Canberra what he has always shown he is capable of.”

Admiral Jello, an unlucky photo-finish second in the Listed Canberra Cup (2000m), will go to the Group 3 Manion Cup (2400m) on Saturday week.

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