Oct 11, 2018
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, October 11, 2018: A soft draw has boosted Kris Lees’ confidence about Smart Melody maintaining her unbeaten record at Caulfield on Saturday.
Lees holds a very strong hand in the $500,000 Thousand Guineas (1600m) with two strong chances – Smart Melody (James McDonald, who bagged five winners at Warwick Farm yesterday) and El Dorado Dreaming (Damian Lane) – as he strives for his 15th Group 1 success.
Whilst the former is yet to be tested at 1600m, he believes she will cope with the assignment.
“Both fillies are in great order, but Smart Melody (barrier 2) has to be my pick,” Lees said this afternoon.
“The soft gate is a big advantage, and should ensure she gets a comfortable run.
“No doubt our other filly El Dorado Dreaming (barrier 7) will be closing late.
“She has already been placed at 1600m in Group 1 company last autumn and has come on from her first-up run (third to Smart Melody in the 1400m Prelude a couple of weeks ago).”
Smart Melody has strung together five wins (two last season) and handled 1400m for the first time in the Thousand Guineas Prelude at Caulfield on September 30.
El Dorado Dreaming was having her first start since joining Lees’ team when a late closer in the Prelude. She showed her class last April when a big-priced winner of the Group 1 Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick before an unlucky third to Seabrook a fortnight later at the same track in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m).
Lees has decided to put ear muffs on Smart Melody whilst parading just to ensure she is settled prior to the jump.
He has put on hold further Group 1 spring tasks for both fillies until he assesses their weekend performances.
Smart Melody could be freshened to take on the “boys” in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on the straight track at Flemington on November 3 on the opening day of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival.
El Dorado Dreaming is currently second favourite for the VRC Oaks (2500m) at Flemington five days later.
“Those races are still a few weeks away,” Lees said. “We’ll wait and see.”
Lees also runs talented Gem Song (Craig Williams) in another Group 1 at Caulfield, the $2m Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
Whilst he isn’t confident his colt can beat hotpot The Autumn Sun (recent Group 1 Golden Rose winner), he is very happy with how he has settled in at his Caulfield base since being sent to Melbourne last weekend.
“I’m sure he will run well and has a really good place chance,” Lees said.
Gem Song carried 59.5kg to victory over 1300m at Rosehill Gardens on September 22, then backed up at Randwick a week later with 59kg when narrowly beaten by Mickey Blue Eyes (to whom he conceded 6kg) in the Listed Dulcify Quality (1600m).
Lees will have two runners – Tawfiq Boy (Jeff Lloyd) and Powerline (Dale Smith) - from his Gold Coast base at Saturday’s Doomben meeting.
Both will run in the Class 6 Handicap (1200m) despite drawing the two outside barriers in the field of 10.
Doomben is currently rated a “Soft 7”, and Lees has declared them certain starters as each can handle wet ground.