Mar 11, 2019
NEWCASTLE: Monday, March 11, 2019: KRIS Lees has won two of the four runnings of the Provincial Championships Finals – and ironically is yet to secure a finalist this year.
But he will have another throw at the stumps with a likely four representatives in Saturday’s third $150,000 Qualifier (1200m) at Gosford on Saturday.
Lees nominated Chalmers (57.5kg), The Tenor (56kg) and last start winners Evalina (54kg) and Kanavu (56kg), and this afternoon indicated he would probably start all four.
Twenty horses have been nominated for the Gosford race, which has a capacity of 16, and Lees’ horses all are guaranteed starts under ballot order.
Lees had three runners in his home track qualifier last Saturday. Turnberry finished fifth, Bastia sixth and Milseaineighth.
“Turnberry was first-up after a break, and when the rain came it didn’t help his chances,” he said.
“In the circumstances he ran well and is better off at 1600m.”
Lees has nominated Frankely Awesome and Lady Of Shalott For Friday’s $200,000 Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m), but is yet to make a decision on starts for the pair.
Frankel filly Frankely Awesome has also been entered for a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens, and Bill Rutledge Memorial (1600m Class 4 Handicap) at Gosford – both on Saturday.
Recent Canterbury winner Lady Of Shalott is also an entrant for the $200,000 Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Brave Smash (third), Graff (fourth) and In Her Time (sixth) all ran well in last Saturday’s Group 1 VRC Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington and are being floated back to Newcastle overnight.
Graff’s progress in the next week will determine whether he starts next in the $700,000 Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday week.
“I’m also considering taking the blinkers off him if he runs in The Galaxy,” Lees said. “He was a bit too aggressive in the Newmarket and didn’t help his chances.
“In Her Time is a tough mare. I thought she was going to drop out of contention, but stayed on right to the line.
“We’ll keep her fresh for the TJ Smith Stakes ($2.5m Group 1 over 1200m at Royal Randwick on April 6, Day 1 of The Championships).”
Brave Smash will be flown out of Sydney next Monday headed for Dubai, where he will tackle the Group 1 Alquoz Sprint (1200m) at Meydan on March 30.
Aside from Lucia Valentina’s gallant fifth to A Shin Hakari in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin in December, 2015, it will be Lees’ first overseas venture to another part of the globe.
“It will be an interesting experience,” he said. “I’m not sure when I will go, but I will definitely be there for the race.
“Brave Smash has nothing more to prove in Australia. He is a dual Group 1 winner and has been placed in the last two VRC Newmarkets as well as placing in the inaugural The Everest in 2017.
“Now that I have had something to do with him, he is an even better horse than I initially thought he was.”
It has been mooted that Brave Smash could continue on to England for the Royal Ascot meeting in June if he races well in the Alquoz Sprint.
Lees has aborted Miss Fabulass’ autumn preparation after she dropped out to finish eighth to crack colt The Autumn Sun in last Saturday’s Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m), after rider Jason Collett made a mid-race dash from the rear to take up the running.
“She ran a remarkable 32secs for 600m when she did go,” Lees said. “Nothing has gone right for her this campaign. We’ll give her a break to clear her head.”
Le Romain remains in Melbourne, where he is first emergency for Saturday’s $5m All Star Mile at Flemington.
“He had a nice jumpout at Flemington last Friday, and will gallop on the course proper in the morning,” Lees said.
“If he doesn’t get a start in the All Star Mile, he’ll come home on Saturday night.”